Showing posts from September, 2013

Kales and Chards - the best fall planted crops for zone 7

In our area, zone 7 Northeast Oklahoma USA it is still 80 during the sunny days, though in the 50s and 60s at night. The butterflies, skippers, wasps and bees are in their most productive season here - and so are gardeners who love fall and early winter greens from the garden.

Kale, chard, beets and other leafy greens can still be planted and harvested before our first hard freeze. And, with a decent mulch around the roots, salads and sandwich greens often last until January. We've served them at a New Year's Day open house in the past.
Red Russian, Siberian, Lacinato, Blue Curled have all worked well for me in the past - see For chards, check out Seeds of Italy's assortment at - they give you lots of seeds per pack! Of course, as they say in the investing world, past performance bears no relevance to future performance. For us, that means, Mother Nature can…

New Plants for 2014

The 2013 garden year is ending and the new plants for 2014 are being announced by plant propagators and growers. There are some real beauties in all categories – here is a sampling.
Sweet Spot Decorator Roses are compact new varieties that mature at only 16 to 24-inches tall and wide. They are cold hardy to zone 5, bloom all summer, and have been bred for disease resistance and drought tolerance. Four colors will be released in 2014: Sweet Spot Yellow, Ruby, Peach and Calypso. You can get a sneak peek at
SuperCal the All Weather Petunia is being introduced by Sakata. SuperCal petunias come in 11 colors for trailing in baskets or upright for flower beds. This new hybrid survives heat and light frost, as well as heavy rain. The plant breeder Sakata Seeds set up where you can see it in pots and flower beds.
Double Take Geraniums, new from Selecta, have double flowers in red, pink, scarlet, white and pink+white which is a pi…

Divide Asiatic Lilies in the fall

This is a really good time to divide Asiatic Lily bulbs, both to increase flowering next summer and to spread them throughout your garden!

There is very little work to it and simply dividing and watering in this fall will result in more beauty for next summer.

Now that the leaves have yellowed, you can still see where they are. Grab a shovel and a bucket to hold the bulbs and go out there. Start in one section of the garden where the plants are still standing, working your way through the beds over a series of days if necessary.

Put the shovel in the ground a few inches out from the main stem so you get the bulbils still attached when you lift the dirt. Then, cut off the stem an inch above the soil.
Dump your dig onto newspaper and separate the mother bulb from the children. Do not compost any stems with fungus on them. Here's a how-to video from Ken at www.lilyflowerstore.com

You can replant all the children or only the largest ones. La…

Stonecrop or Sedum Pure Joy!

Sedum Autumn Joy is one of my garden favorites. The flowers at this time of year are pink and they will deepen to a rusty magenta color before the first hard freeze.

Skippers, butterflies and other pollinators love sedum flowers - there isn't much pollen around when these are blooming. When the seeds follow the flowers, watch the birds come to snack.

The photo is of the new Sedum Pure Joy named for the pink flowers.

The leaves and stems are blue-green, and the plant has a mounding form that reaches 10 inches tall and spreads 20 inches across. Plant each quart container 15 to 20 inches apart.

I've been dividing and multiplying my Autumn Joy for a decade and it has a prime place in more than one bed. Sedums are also good for driveways, foundation, path, and rock garden beds. Cold hardy in zones 3 to 9; heat and road salt tolerant, too.
 According to Wayside Gardens, Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennials is responsible for this new introduction. Intrinsic Perennials is located i…

Cold Hardy zones, Heat Zones and Climate Zones

Selecting the right plants and plant varieties for our gardens makes the difference between planting whatever looks good and building a garden that gives beauty and satisfaction for years with little trouble to the gardener.
Most plant tags and plant catalogs provide the USDA cold hardiness zones, along with standard information such as the ideal sun or shade location, mature plant height and width, and some cultural tips such as water needs. They are provided in order to help gardeners be successful with their plant selections and gardening success.
The USDA cold hardiness zone map, at, is widely used by growers and gardeners to decide whether a plant will survive a normal winter outside. The ten zones are based on average annual minimum winter temperatures. Each zone represents 10-degrees difference from the next zone up or down the scale. The zone number refers only to an average winter temperature range.
If you have been gardening for a few years, you have no …

Snow on the Mountain, native Euphorbia marginata

Snow-On-The-Mountain, Euphorbia marginata is an American annual that is native across most of the U.S and Canada. The variegated leaves and attraction for pollinators make it a must have in our native gardens. The plants make a conspicuous show, rising to 3-4 feet tall in our flower beds by this time of year.  Our first plants came in with a load of composted soil we purchased from a local supplier. When they first started emerging, I paged through page after page in the seedling books and concluded that it was okra - pink stems, etc. As with all Euphorbias the sap in the stems can cause skin rash or burn so be careful until you know whether or not you are sensitive. North Carolina State University reminds us that it is not to be eaten since it is poisonous. At Robb's Plants, they call it Summer Icicle - lovely name. And, at Sunny Gardens, they say one of its names is Ghost Plant. The plants are fairly nondescript until early fall when the inflorescences/bracts appear and the le…

Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty by Graham Rice

Power House Plants by Graham Rice has its own website at which is always such a cool marketing and public relations concept.

It is unlikely that there is a powerhouse plant out there that Rice isn't familiar with. He's one of the plant geniuses who commands my full attention. Rice writes a blog called the Transatlantic Gardener, lives in the U.K. and the U.S. and is a prolific writer.

The pages from 27 to 370 are filled with plants, plants and nothing but plants. Each plant is named, categorized, features described, photographs provided, cold hardy zones, size at maturity, how to use them, varieties available, and tips for care.

Plants include: Trees, deciduous shrubs, perennial flowers, tender perennials, ferns, annual flowers, vines, evergreen shrubs, well, something from every category of plants!  If Rice says these plants will be good choices, they no doubt will.

Whether you are starting out with your garden hobby or in the continuous improveme…

Daffodil Time!

Daffodil planting season is here and it is time to shop the stores or place your mail order for daffodil bulbs to plant in October and November.
The American Daffodil Society website ( has tips for successful bulb selection.
1) Order early - This is not a marketing gimmick. Early orders generally get the pick of the crop. Your chances are better of getting exactly what you order with no surprises.
2) Read the Fine Print - Check the guarantee. Terms vary widely. Will they replace or refund in case of problems. Are the bulbs guaranteed true to name?
3) Compare Prices - Prices are not the same. Our opinion is that you do get what you pay for. Cheap bulbs are generally cheap for a reason. Smaller bulbs generally give smaller and fewer flowers. If it seems too good to be true, it may well be!
4) Be Aware - Some general bulb merchants routinely change bulb names and some may even substitute varieties without your knowledge. We can't control it and we certainly don't …

Daffodils - a new book from Kingsbury and Whitworth

Daffodil: The Remarkable Story of the World's Most Popular Spring Flower will be released by Timber Press this month.

Daffodils are simply the best spring flower for durability. No mammals eat the bulbs. That's a big deal if you have squirrels eating the minor bulbs and deer eating the tulips and daylilies.

Also, if they are planted where the drainage is good, they require little care other than a light fertilizing when they in bloom.

It's been a decade since Daffodils had their own book and this one is terrific. The author and photographer are British so it has a European leaning text. For example, the featured gardens are outside the U.S.

With that said, here's what there is to love: History, science, botany, yummy photos, explanation of the divisions, how daffodils moved across Britain, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia, shows and judging,

One chapter, "Cornwall: Centre of the Daffodil Universe"  points out that Cornwall was the centre of the history a…

Musser Forests in PA - source for trees and native plants

Musser Forests begins fall shipping on Sept 15th and it continues to Nov 30. This is the BEST time of year to plant trees and shrubs so their winter root growth has an entire season to help them become established.

Here's a link to the Musser catalog and website

Known for their bare root trees and native plants, Musser has been in business for 85 years.

On the left side of the site's main page, there are links: Plant Index, Plant by Use and Plant by Variety.

The Plant by Use link goes to this menu (below) which is incredibly thorough and helpful to any gardener or landscaper whether or not you want to purchase trees to be shipped!

Accent PlantAcidic SoilAttracts ButterfliesAttracts HummingbirdsBackground Plant or Against Fence or WallBalled & BurlappedBooksChristmas Trees-Cut TreesCold TemperaturesCut or Dried Flower ArrangementDeciduous Flowering ShrubDeciduous ScreensDeer ResistantDisease ResistantDrought and Heat TolerantDry, Windy, Roc…