Showing posts from February, 2014

Attract Wildlife in Your Garden and Yard

Attracting wildlife to a back or front yard requires patience plus a willingness to share, according to Clark Shilling of Owasso.
Clark and Connie Shilling gave a presentation at the 2014 Horticulture Industries Conference last month, showing the audience photos of the wildlife-friendly plants they have added to their 1.5-acre yard.
“We bought our property 11-years ago,” said Clark. “We went to the Tulsa Audubon Society Tour ( to see what was growing in local native plant gardens. While we were there, we bought the book “Bringing Nature Home” and that was our turning point.”
Since attending that tour the Shillings have planted more and more natives. He said Connie’s flower beds are in the front yard, a lawn is in the back yard for their grandchildren, and they fenced an acre in the back for wildlife viewing.
He said native fruits and nuts are good choices for feeding wildlife but that pecans, persimmon and black walnuts can take 5 to 20 years to reach full product…

Lemon Bergamot is Monarda citriodora and Lemon Bee Balm

Lemon Bergamot was featured on a native plant site as being terrific for pollinators, including bees and butterflies. The seed supplier that was featuring the herb did not have their online store up and ready.

Not only is Lemon Bee Balm gorgeous in flower it has many benefits to man and beast. For humans, the usual recommendation is drinking tea made of the leaves, though some people eat the leaves, too. All bees benefit from a planting but bumble bees in particular prefer its flowers.

To grow: Plant the seeds indoors now and transplant outside when all danger of frost has passed. When they reach half-height, about 1-foot tall, be sure they have enough moisture to continue growing to full size which is 2 plus feet tall.

This Monarda is an American native so its water needs are low. It can take part shade and dry soil, sand, rock, clay - whatever you have except wet or boggy soil. Although it is an annual, it can form clumps or become aggressive in good soil. Like all Monarda, it can b…

Seed Germination - sprout them in damp paper towel to check viability

There is an easy method I use to check left over seeds from last year (and older) and you can use the same method to get a jump-start on seeds you will plant in this year's garden,

Last year when Conrad Farms in  Bixby went out of business, I bought several packs of  going-out-of-business sale seeds. 

They were a great deal but that is only true if the seeds sprout and grow into vegetables and the seed packs had no year stamped on them.

One of the seeds I bought was Salsify Mammoth Sandwich Island (Tragopogon porrifolius). They even look tough to germinate with their hard, thick, seed coat. When planted directly into the ground on April 1, they would normally take 3-weeks with constant moisture to sprout and come up.

Since they were seeds from an unknown year and have a reputation for being reluctant, pre-starting seemed like the best option.

Place a sheet of paper towel on a flat surface and moisten it. Sprinkle seeds on top and fold the paper towel over them. If they are seeds that …

Sorrel Varieties for Garden and Table

If you ask a flower gardener about Sorrel they will describe lavender or pink-flowering, shamrock-like plants growing in their woodland gardens.
Ask a vegetable gardener about Sorrel, though, and you will hear about a reliable perennial vegetable used to flavor salads, soup, sauces, seafood, and egg dishes such as spinach-sorrel quiche.
A few gardeners call sorrel a weed that but they are usually  thinking of a different red sorrel, commonly called sheep’s sorrel or sour weed.
Part of the problem is the confusion about identification. There are 200 dock and sorrel genus members including annual, biennial and perennial herbs, so it is easy to blame one or two for all the problems.
The leaves of sorrels cultivated for cooking have a lemony-citrus flavor like kiwi fruit, that is loved by chefs. The leaves vary in shape and color based on variety, but they are all loose-leaf greens that tolerate more heat than spinach making them an ideal addition to the herb or vegetable garden.
Sorrel plants…

Photo Contest - High Country Gardens - entries due May 31

Have good photos? You can win stuff at High Country Gardens' contest if yours is selected.

The categories:
Best Flower Close-Up, Best Flower Grouping, Best Landscape, People Enjoying Gardens, Critters in the Garden (birds, cats, dogs, etc.), Insects in the Garden, Winter Interest and Spring-Blooming Bulbs.

Rules include -You may enter up to five photos.
 Images should be high resolution--greater than 500kb at 300 dpi in .jpg format.
To pass through our spam filters, the photo files should be less than 10mb in size.
All photos submitted before midnight Mountain Time on May 31st, 2014 will be eligible to win $50 High Country Gardens gift certificate.
One gift certificate valued at $100 will be awarded to the first place winner, as decided by popular vote.
Voting will held June 7-30, 2013.
Grand Prize winner will be announced on or before July 15, 2014.
Prizes have no cash value and can only be used to purchase products from High Country Gardens, either via our website or over…

Euro Style Container Gardening

In Switzerland, the country is trending toward more high rise living and as a result more patio/balcony gardening. So says Erwin Meier-Honegger in the nursery industry magazine "Green Profit".

Meier-Honegger said that large containers for balconies are designed not only to hold plenty of flowers, herbs or vegetables but to establish privacy barriers for residents. He also cited their lower maintenance when compared with having several smaller containers around - good point!

He says terracotta pots are dead and colorful planters are in, though most of his customers at his garden center, Ernst Meier Garden Center, tend to buy containers in dove and anthracite colors.

For indoors, Meier-Honegger's customers are more interested in the color and design of the planter than the plants within. Customers want style, something special in the planter in which any old plant will do.

And, dear to my heart, his savvy shoppers are buying insect hotels for beneficial insects, and, payin…

Hellebore Festival in VA

Pine Knott Hellebore Farms is opening the growing season with a Hellebore Festival. It will be Fridays and Saturdays from the end of Feb. and into March.

If you click on the link above, you'll get all the information about the festival plus tips on succeeding with them.

In our NE OK area, the summer heat and humidity are too brutal for these lovelies but if you are lucky enough to have the right weather they are evergreen all winter and provide flowers when nothing else is pretty.

Pine Knott tips -

Evergreen varieties include - Helleborus x hybridus, true H. orientalis, H. niger, H. x nigercors, H. x ericsmithii, and H. foetidus

Evergreen in warm climates - H. argutifolius, H. lividus (tender), H. x sternii

Deciduous in most gardens - H. multifidus, H. purpurascens, H. viridis, H. odorus, H. atrorubens, H. dumetorum, H. cyclophyllusH. torquatus and H. croaticus,H. thibetanus.

In their garden H. purpurascens and some strains of H. multifidus begin going dormant in August or September. 

Plants Adapted/Evolved to Cope with Cold

As gardeners observe their heat and cold zones shift, they wonder how plants and animals can possibly adapt to all the changes that have happened to climate over time. Locally, the USDA hardiness zone ( moved from 6 to 7 and gardeners around the country report similar trends.
In school, we learned about the era of dinosaurs, the ice age, and, now the gradual replacement of tropical forest to dry Savannah is occurring. Birds lay eggs earlier in the year and plants are starting their spring cycles days sooner than in the past.
Henry David Thoreau recorded detailed lists of the precise blooming and leafing of several hundred flowers trees, and shrubs from 1852 to 1861. Those plants are responding to spring two-weeks earlier now ( as a result of climate change in general and due to the urban heat island created by the greater Boston population.
At the other end of the spectrum, researchers are studying how plants evolved to withstand …

Melia azedarach is Chinaberry Tree, Texas Umbrella Tree, White Cedar, Persian Lilac, Chinaball

Melia azedarach is another one of those good ideas that went astray along the way. Chinaberry and four other species are from Asia and north Australia. They are all from the Mahogany plant family of trees and shrubs. In her Examiner dot com article, Judy Holly said, "Chinaberry trees grow in alkaline soils and survive dry and hot climates so they have been a popular tree in the southwest for many years and are suitable for Las Vegas conditions."And, they are a pretty shaped tree with mildly poisonous fruits. (Who eats these things besides songbirds?) Not harmful to birds who eat the berries until they fall down drunk. In CA it's a hilarious sight for commuters to see the birds drunk along the waysides.The fruits have also been a walking hazard, like pepper trees and other trees that drop hard seed pods. The same poison is in the leaves and an extract has been used as an insecticide.Melia azedarach trees are weak-limbed like other fast growing trees; and, they produce suc…

Big Data and One Zoom's Tree of Life

One Zoom says, "Big data" is a growing issue in Science and Industry. Modern computing has enabled large amounts of data to be captured and stored and has revolutionised many branches of science. These advances, however, lead to challenges, such as how to explore and visualise large data sets. The very first blue-skies idea that could have been identified with OneZoom was that of a mind map so vast that it could contain all human knowledge."
At their website,, they introduce the topic, "This website allows you to explore the tree of life in a completely new way: it's like a map, everything is on one page, all you have to do is zoom in and out. OneZoom also provides free, open source, data visualisation tools for science and education, currently focusing on the tree of life. You can create visualisations of your own data as well as explore ones we have made."

The menu on the right of that main page is how you enter into the data.

Backyard Wetland - It's a Bog, A Quaking Bog, A Swamp, A Fen, A Marsh!

The University of Illinois Extension Service posted a cool article about how to use those last-to-dry spots in the yard.

Called Coles County Yard and Garden, the author wrote, " A bog tends to be waterlogged soil without any standing water (and therefore not a mosquito magnet).

A Quaking Bog is a floating mat of thickly woven mosses, rushes, and shrubs that forms across the surface of shallow ponds and may shimmy or shake when walked on.

A fen is an area of waterlogged soil that tends to be peaty and is fed by upwelling water. The difference between a bog and a fen is the water source and the acidity of the site. Bogs tend to be acidic; fens are more alkaline. Water flows into bogs solely through rainwater and run-off, while fens are also fed by groundwater.

A marsh has standing water – either temporary or permanent – and hosts vegetation such as cattails.

A swamp is a wetland area with trees.

Wetlands are one of the richest biological habitats on Earth. Unfortunately, for centu…

Pachysandra or Spurge for shade You Can Grow That!

Pachysandra is a semi-evergreen ground cover that is native to the eastern US from PA to LA and is cold hardy to zone 5. It is an ideal choice for shady areas in the garden where a slow growing ground cover would be ideal. Its common names include Allegheny-spurge and Mountain Spurge.
Since Pachysandra procumbens thrives in well-drained, acidic soil, the perfect spot is under trees and shrubs where falling leaves make the soil acidic and the trees absorb most of the available moisture. This little native groundcover is a member of the same plant family as boxwood.
There are no insects or diseases that cause problems. It can be planted in masses in order to control erosion on sloping, shady banks. Another great place for Pachysandra procumbens is under shade trees where grass is difficult to grow due to lack of sunlight.
The hybrid varieties are equally easy to grow and care for. Eco Treasure has more markings on the leaves than other varieties. Forest Green looks just like the native one…

Bryophyllum tubiflorum - Kalanchoe delagoensis - Mother of Millions or Chandelier plant

Bryophyllum tubiflorum has many names not the least of which is invasive but more commonly it is called Mother of Thousands or Mother of Millions. They are native to Madagascar but have traveled the world as houseplants and green house pets. Chandelier Plant is common because it is prolific in its reproduction habits.

Plantlets grow along the edges of these interesting succulents that we grow as houseplants. In zones 9-12 it can be grown outside and at Delange there are photos of it outside in the garden. Just follow the link to see them.

To propagate them you don't have to do anything because the tiny plantlets fall off and start new plants in whatever is nearby, including other plants' pots, their own saucers, etc.

One of ours has round/oval leaves and another one has long stems that go on and on until we cut off pieces and put them into pots or pitch them out.

The ones we potted are now blooming out in the garden shed, providing a cheerful bit of color on these incredibly c…

New Pennisetum grasses for our gardens from Selecta

The Selecta grasses assortment is said to be the best assortment of Pennisetum worldwide. They are all cold hardy in zones 9-10 so would either be annuals or container plants in most of the U.S. They are gorgeous colors with dramatic flower plumes.

New this year is  Pennisetum setaceum Cherry Sparkler from Ronald Strasko (Bred in the US).

 Bred in the UK, Sky Rocket is variegated greens. The flowers are smoke pink.