Showing posts from March, 2014

Wildflower Identification sites

When plants emerge gardeners want to know what they are in order to decide to eradicate/remove or leave to grow, mature, flower and spread more.

Here are a few more helpful websites -

Wildflowers of the US

for all those milkweeds that are emerging right now - feed the Monarchs!

Cleverly, this wildflower identification website is organized by flower color

Oklahoma wildflowers blog hasn't been updated in years but the existing information works

Kansas wildflowers listed by color

Texas wildflowers

Missouri wildflowers

Arkansas wildflowers


If you know of more, let us all in on your tips and favorite identification sites!

Daffodil Day Saturday March 29 2014 in Muskogee

Stop by and see us! Start at Three Rivers Museum, 220 Elgin, Muskogee. Tour the museum and take the trolley to the Thomas Foreman Historic Home -$10.

There is very limited parking at the T-F Home but you can also go directly there - 1419 West Okmulgee AV. Admission is $5 and includes a tour of the home, tea and plant sale sponsored by Muskogee Garden Club members.
The event is a membership drive for the Museums and the Garden Club. Girl Scout Cookies for sale on Saturday! Daffodil Day Saturday Mar 2910:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The daffodils are blooming for Daffodil Day at the Thomas-Foreman Historic Home! SATURDAY MARCH 29th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Muskogee Garden Club will be serving tea and cookies, selling all kinds of plants for YOUR garden, and Girl Scouts will have a 'drive up' cookie sale. Take a ride on the trolley from Three Rivers Museum, 220 Elgin and enjoy stories about the history of Muskogee on the way. For more information see the Thomas-For…

Phlox paniculata is Summer Phlox or Garden Phlox

Cold-hardy, perennial, Garden or Summer Phlox plants are loaded with summertime flowers that feed butterflies and have sturdy stems that can be cut for arrangements.
The first discovery of Phlox was recorded in VA, 1678, by John Banister, an English missionary-naturalist who was studying the flora and fauna of the British Colonies. Then, in 1737, Linnaeus established the Phlox genus, naming them flowers the color of glowing flame.
Summer or Garden Phlox, Phlox paniculata, shows off its colors in the heat of summer with large heads of scented flowers covered with butterflies and skippers. The tallest varieties are native from the Appalachians to the Ozarks.
Summer Phlox is one of the most widely grown and bred perennials in the world. They are not particular about soil type but need a moist, well-drained place in the sun.
If they do not have adequate air circulation they are susceptible to powdery mildew. Three mildew-prevention tips: Snip out all but 4 - 6 stems in mature clumps, divide c…

Spring in our zone 7 landscape

Spring is later this year and plants are beginning to wake up from the long winter we had.

But, the daffodils reliably reward us by multiplying. This year there was a late freeze so a few hundred of the earliest buds were frozen and didn't have the opportunity to open.

Every spring I'm surprised to see old friends returning. Between the colder than normal winter following 2 years of drought one never knows!

For example, the arum that came back (photo left) in the shade garden, blows my mind each and every year when it pokes its strange, pointy head out of the ground. Its leaves and flower are equally dramatic.

The fruit trees, brambles and strawberries are greening up, too. Flowers are popping out, and the herbs are returning with the spring sun.

So far, it's promising!

At this time of year, every day surprises pull us outside to clean beds just to be out there and to see what else is waking up.

Betony is Stachys officinalis

Betony is more than reliable in my garden - it generously reseeds itself to the point that I pull out half or three fourths of the tiny plants every spring during cleanup. By March, the tiny plants are just a few leaves hugging the ground and are easy to remove as I'm taking off the leaves and last year's perennial stems for spring.

Betony is easy to get along with - it has no special soil requirements and will thrive in sun or part-shade down to zone 4 cold winters.

The flower spikes are at the top, then to both sides of an interrupted spike. The one in these photos spent the winter in the garden shed and is happily blooming and making buds.

You can usually get unwanted plants from friends at this time of year. Most of my thinnings become compost. Established plants can be divided in the spring and they can be started from seeds.

Many people use the leaves or the entire plant in many tea infusions and as herbal medicine, especially for headaches. The leaves are dried out of l…

Daffodils, Narcissus and Jonquils

Daffodil Day, March, 29 10 to 3
Thomas Foreman Historic Home 1419W Okmulgee
Sponsored by Muskogee Garden Club and Three Rivers Museum Sue Tolbert 918-686-6624 Muskogee Garden Club Oyana Wilson 918-683-5380 email
There are 27,000 unique daffodil cultivars with flower colors from white to yellow and orange. Daffodils can be cultivated and cross-bred hundreds of ways to form delicate hybrids. Also, they can live on abandoned homesteads for a hundred years without any human intervention. 

The names Jonquil, Narcissus and Daffodil are used for all the flowers in the Narcissus family since Narcissus is the name of the plant genus of which they are all members. Daffodil is used as a common name for all of them.
The exception is Narcissus jonquilla, what we call Jonquils, are unique from the others because they have narrow leaves, and each stem has 3 fragrant flowers with flat petals.
Since early history daffodils have been celebrated in song, poetry,…

free talks - Tulsa and Stillwater

In Tulsa, Tues, March 25 at 7 pm 
Tulsa Garden Center
Dr. Raymond Cloyd
"Organic Pesticides"
free and open to the public

In Stillwater, Friday, March 28 at 3 pm
OSU Campus, Peggy V. Helmerich Browsing Room, Edmon Low Library
Joseph Tychonievich
"Plants, People and Beyond"
free and open to the public

Growing Beets from Seed - direct sow or grow in flats

Sowing, thinning and growing beets can be challenging to grow in our area. Now that it's time to get those seeds into the ground - here are some success tips. The thinnings will give you great salad and sandwich greens, then the beets themselves are delicious raw in grated beet salad and cooked with butter and vinegar toppings.

Each seed that comes out of the envelope is actually a capsule of seeds. Watch this helpful Burpee video on how to pre-soak, plant, thin, space, and harvest your crop.

If you prefer to start your beet seeds in flats, here's a helpful how-to video from Gary Pilarchik

Most people suggest soaking the seeds overnight to get them to germinate faster. They are planted .5 inch deep and 4 to 6 inches apart, depending on whether you want to grow plenty of tops for salad.

The planting row has to be kept moist, so top it with burlap, compost or another moisture retention material…

Oxallis is Sorrel, Tripholium is Clover, Shamrocks are both

Most of the clover in nature is 3-leaf Tripholium, so plants with 4-leaves were thought to bring good luck to anyone who found them. Some gardeners plant Tripholium (white, yellow and red clover), to feed bees, butterflies and aphid-eating wasps. Landscapers and home-owners who prize perfect lawns spray herbicides to kill any clover that appears.
The three-leafed Shamrock worn on hats for St. Patrick’s Day is considered to represent the Holy Trinity. The name Oxalis came from the Greek oxys or sharp, referring to the plants’ acidic taste. In the 1600s people living off the land ate the protein and nutrient rich leaves and flowers of clover to improve their diets when greens were in short supply. Second only to potatoes in popularity, Oxalis tuberosa produces a widely-cultivated, edible, tuber. Source:
The plants sold as shamrocks around St. Patrick’s Day are often Oxalis which has clover shaped leaves in green, red, burgundy, purple and a variety of color combin…

Downy Arrowwood Viburnum is Viburnum rafinesquianum - Pollinators

Shrubs feed pollinators, too!
Downy Arrowwood Viburnum or Viburnum rafinesquianum is a native shrub with pollen-loaded flowers in May - June. Not great to plant near the font or back door since the flowers bring bees, long-horned beetles, flies,  mining bees and other bugs.
In the fall the leaves are red-wine and the berries are blue. Downy arrowwood likes a bit of shade and the edge of woodlands where the soil remains well-drained.
If it is happy, it will sucker and give you a thicket of loose branches. Good for stabilizing hills.

Aerial pruning from a helicopter

Highway right-of-way trimming from the air. This video was taken in VA near Luray. The area is home to a U.S. Forest Service air tanker base.

It took my breath away and convinced me to never apply for the job.

The 5-minute video is at


The Plant Lovers Guide to Sedums - new book by Brent Hovarth

Brent Hovarth, plant breeder extraordinaire has a new book coming out next month on one of my favorite garden staples, Sedums.

I love sedums and while I have books about cacti and succulents, a book devoted to sedum will be a wonderful addition to garden libraries everywhere.

His publisher, Timber Press says about him, "Brent Horvath is a second-generation nurseryman and owner of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens, a wholesale nursery in Hebron, Illinois. He is a major supplier of sedums and green-roof plants in the Midwestern United States. He also actively breeds and introduces new sedums into the trade and currently has twelve plant patents including four sedums with two more sedum patents pending." 

Who knew?

Timber Press will release the book in a few weeks so I haven't seen it yet. Here's their publicity blurb though - The Plant Lover's Guide to Sedums includes everything you need to know about these beautiful gems. Plant profiles highlight 150 of the best varietie…

Penstemon varieties for every garden

Beard tongue is the common name for husker red penstemon, or penstemon digitalis husker red. Admittedly, some gardeners consider it a thug due to its eagerness to reproduce, but penstemon has its place in the cottage and butterfly garden.

The leaf color is a gorgeous green and purple-maroon. The late-May flowers are white, with a soft lavender-pink color at the bud-base. Hummingbirds and tiny pollinators visit the flowers. Plus, the plants are durable enough to be successful in your most challenging dry soil in part-sun, at the base of shrubs, or along the sidewalk. However, with too much shade and they can become weak and fall over. 

Like many penstemons, they are cold hardy in zones 3 to 8, making them shrug off our ice and snow. Plus, husker red is one of the few penstemons that can thrive despite a wet winter, or drought, humidity and heat. Penstemons are mostly native to dry climates so the one condition that they cannot tolerate is wet clay or locations where the planting area sta…

Snow in March!

Crazy weather ... normally the snow peas would be a foot tall by March 3rd but this year only the snow is that deep along streets where the snow plows have piled up the white stuff.  Here's our garden today -  It won't hurt the garlic to be under snow, it's just so unusual. The next photo is my trays of winter sown seeds. Both the Calendula and the White Russian Kale seeds had emerged before the cold and snow hit us, but were clinging to the soil surface. Hopefully they are short enough to survive.

The earliest daffodils began blooming during the recent warm spell, about 3 weeks ago. Their little heads are now dunked into snow.

Hundreds more flower buds are out there standing tall, awaiting Wednesday's warm up when the nights will continue to freeze but the daytime temperatures will keep things moving along toward spring.

I'm grieving a bit about not being able to get the spring vegetable garden seeds and plant starts into the ground, but have found plenty to keep…

Plants for a Cause

We are growing over 200 plants to sell at a March 29th plant sale during Muskogee's Daffodil Day. The event is a joint project of Muskogee Garden Club and Three Rivers Museum/Thomas Foreman Historic Home and it will run from 10 to 3 that Saturday.

The Muskogee Garden Club's net proceeds from the plant sale and tea will help fund the horticulture scholarships the club offers to students who want to work in the field.

For the modest price of  $10, the tour begins at Three Rivers Museum, includes a tour there and a trolley ride to the
 Thomas-Foreman Historic Home for all the festivities.

For $5 attendees can go straight to the Thomas-Foreman Home. They will get a home tour, enjoy the 1500 daffodils we planted, snack on home made goodies and shop the plant sale.

 Most of the plants we are offering are from our garden - either divisions or re-potted volunteer plants.
We are also sharing our seeds, most of which were harvested from our garden last summer and fall. Our Castor Beans…