Showing posts from August, 2013

Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia var sullivantii fulgida Goldsturm

  This little gorgeous perennial Black-eyed Susan was sent to me from the grower to try it out. Look for this specific one if you would like to have a mid-size perennial Rudbeckia that cheers up the garden, returns reliably year after year, and spreads very slowly to fill in a patch of ground.   This is such a polite little plant - no seeding around everywhere. It's been in the ground three years and the 4-inch pot size plant has spread to make a 2-foot wide plant with offsets. When the flowers fade they become practically black - gorgeous to my eye. Do not pull off the flowers when cleaning up the plant, like you would a zinnia. Entire stems came off in my hand when I did it that way. Better to take a pair of clippers out and do it correctly.   'Goldsturm' was the 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year by The Perennial Plant Association. It should be in full sun but ours is in part sun. Hardy in zones 4 to 9.   Seedaholic sells 75 seeds for $2

Agastache - Late Summer's Dusty Colors = You Can Grow That!

Scented leaves , gorgeous late-summer flowers and durable plants beloved by butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, make Agasataches a garden favorite. Most Agastaches are cold hardy to zone 6 so they will live at least a few years in our climate. Common names for Agastache include: Hummingbird Mint, Anise Hyssop, Giant Hyssop, Sunset Hyssop, Lavender Mint, and Korean Mint. Agastache aurnatiaca Coronado hyssop from   Plant Select Agastaches, including A. rupestris, A. Foeniculum, and A. Aurantiaca, etc., can take the heat as well as an early frost and keep on going. They are drought tolerant so good drainage is important to their survival. They also love sun, even in our humid, zone 7, summertime climate. Only one or two stems come up on each plant so a typical butterfly flower bed could hold several plants without crowding. The flower heads can be used in cut flower bouquets if they are harvested while they are no more than two-thirds open. The scented leaves are 2 or

The Tule Tree - a natural monument in Oaxaca

The Tree of Tule (El Arbol del Tule) is in Oaxaca Mexico. A Montezuma cypress, Taxodium mucronatum or aheuhuete (Old man of the water) the Tule tree has the largest trunk in the world. The water reference in its name refers to the fact that the area was swampland at one time. In fact during periods of drought the townspeople have undertaken watering/irrigation projects to keep the tree alive and healthy. The subterranean water that previously fed the Tule tree and the surrounding swamplands has been used by the population as an outcome of growth. Efforts are being made to protect the microbasins ( ) Our friend, Dr. Jerry Gustafson of Tulsa, OK, visited the tree with a group of friends and gave permission to share his personal photos from that trip. The tree stands in a churchyard, dwarfing the church itself. At one time there was speculation that it was several trees that had grown together but DNA testing proved that it is one sing

Dicots and Monocots

Monocots and dicots are the two major groups of flowering plants. Jim Conrad's site, "Backyard Nature Home" explains the difference well.   MONOCOTS or Liliopsida include the grasses, wheat, barley, rice, corn - in fact a fourth of all flowering plants, one source says 199,350 species. Monocot seedlings usually have only one seed leaf or cotyledon when the seed sprouts. Their flowers have three petals or multiples of three petals.   DICOTS or Magnoliopsida When you plant seeds of dicot plants, the first leaves to emerge will be 2 cotyledons or embryonic leaves. Dicots usually have four or five petaled flowers.   Monocotyledonae ("one cotyledon") and Dicotyledonae ("two cotyledons").   Didn't know this bit about the leaf veins " Leaf veins -- In monocots , there are usually a number of major leaf veins which run parallel the length of the leaf ; in d icots , there are usually numerous auxillary veins which reticulate be

Lantana camara

For those of us who love Lantana camara for its reliable summertime flowers that bring butterflies and skippers to our gardens, it will come as a bit of a surprise that the plant has many names and a bad reputation in some places. There is a creeping Lantana which is L. montevidensis. White Flower Farm offers Lantana montevidensis Lavender Swirl that looks a lot like a creeping Verbena. Lantanas are related to Verbena and the trailing verbenas are also called Weeping or Trailing Lantana. Lantana camara’s many names include:   Shrub Verbena, Big Sage, Red, Yellow and Wild Sage, Spanish Flag, West Indian Lantana, Lava, and Feston Rose.   Lantana Landmark Sunrise Rose  Verbena and Lantana plants are easily confused; Alan Armitage said he had to use a plant lens to distinguish them.   They are considered cold hardy only to zone 9 but ours have returned for 5 years, becoming larger every year.   The plants have no known disease or insect problems. They flower most when t

Perilla, Flowering Tobacco and Petunias

Some plantings are for the birds! This entire bed was planted by wind and birds. All I did this summer was weed out everything that wasn't Perilla, Flowering Tobacco and Petunias. has the scoop on Nicotiana at   The bed is under a dead black walnut tree and the entire area was covered with newsprint and a few inches of hardwood mulch. Last spring when it became obvious that the tree had died, we moved all the hardwood mulch to the perennial bed behind. The newsprint had all been eaten by earthworms of course. That's what they do so well. I've never seen Trailing Petunias re-seed like this. Have you had this experience?   Perilla is known for generously re-seeding itself. The original seeds were sent to me 5 years ago by my cousin in Germany where they are called Rotes Basilikum (red basil). Since then, they have returned each year but only a few plants.   Did you know that before

Fall Planting Advice from Bountiful Gardens

Below is another terrific resource for planning your fall garden from Bountiful Gardens . However! Please note that they are in Willits CA which is USDA zone 8B and their advice is based on their soil, temperatures, etc. My garden is in Northeast Oklahoma zone 7 and while I often give advice for other zones I'm specific about it. I'll be starting peas, beans, lettuce, chard and kale soon but our soil temperature is still too high. I learned that by putting in seeds 2 weeks ago -they just sat there. This is worth a read just for the reminders so we'll succeed with fall veggies. Garden Tips For Now: Fall and winter gardening is easier than summer gardening in lots of ways-- there are fewer w e eds, fewer pests, no glut, and a slower pace that makes keeping up easier. Anything you grow is so appreciated when the days are cold. The hard part is knowing when to start those fall crops. In most places, most plants won't grow much in winter--they need to be fa

Piet Oudolf - An interview with a garden genius

Here is a link to an online video of an interview with Piet Oudolf When asked who is heroes are he responded, "plants". I don't think I'm influenced by any of these architects or plant landscapers.  "Plants are my tools to create things that show my insides." A garden is color first then structure. A landscape is structure first. A favorite season is autumn of course, after summer. In spring there is an abundance of flowering trees and then you are relieved when it is done. Same with summer. I like it when that falls into decay and the flowers are dying down. Finding new plants in a world where all the main nurseries grow what they like and what sells. In my hobby I discovered plants that stood out from the rest. We have a lot of gardens at our house that are 1.5 hectares of trial gardens, experiments, trying out concepts. Gardens are a metaphor for

Mid-August in zone 7 - things to consider doing

August is a gardening month when there is either nothing to do but enjoy the garden or an endless list of tasks to accomplish before the leaves fall. An early morning walk around the garden and yard with a pad and pencil can be very productive. Make of note of which trees and shrubs need to be thinned or pruned up, which perennials would benefit from being divided, where the bare spots are, which plants need to be removed, etc. Also on that walk, note the bare spots in the turf and mulch, inspect plants for signs of insect damage, irrigation leaks, fence or deck work to be done, etc. Look for plants such as Hostas that have centers dying and plants that have outgrown the amount of space thought they would need. Consider where pieces of those divided perennials might look good next year. Take a pair of clippers on your walk and remove any dead or diseased twigs. Make a note of limbs or branches that should come out because they are crossing another branch. This is a

Recycle Food Waste - Become a Microbe Farmer!

At our Muskogee, OK, home, we recycle food in worm bins and a compost heap. My brother, Misch Lehrer, recycles Albuquerque's municipal food and municipal waste at Soilutions (Soilutions, Inc. 505-877-0220).  (The Soilutions recycling blog is at with interesting articles posted.) Here's how they are keeping food out of the landfill. "From Fork To Farm : Café's Food-Waste Composting Program Keeps Leftovers Out Of The Landfill". "Soilutions picks up anything that has been alive," said Misch Lehrer, Soilutions manager. They accept food waste from many area businesses and organizations, such as Whole Foods Market Inc., the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort &Spa, the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College, Lehrer said. Soilutions also accepts manure and straw from area farms, as well as dead and wilted flowers from local flower shops. Additionally, Soilutions harvests scraps from one-time events