29 April 2014

Strawberry Begonias is Strawberry Geranium and Saxifragea Stolonifera

A gardening friend brought some of his Strawberry Begonia plants to an event we had here for fellow gardeners. I was dubious. He has full time gardeners. We have two retired people who are doing and learning as fast as they can - us. No helpers to weed, water, fertilize, etc.

So I planted them in two locations to see if they would survive. They all did. In both locations. Without any special care or winter protection.

Their range in the US is limited to zones 6 to 9 but like Impatiens and other Begonias we plant outside for the summer, they can be dug and divided to be protected over the winter and put back outside for the summer.

From Asia originally, they prefer moist spots, spread across the ground with runners and tiny plantlets. Those delicate red runners and tiny plantlets really show off to advantage in a hanging container. Overwatering and too much sun will make Strawberry Begonias suffer so be sure the spot or pot is well-drained and out of full sun.

One way to propagate plants over the winter in the house is to place containers of soil around the main pot and string the plantlets on top of the soil. They will root in a few weeks and then you just snip the runner.

Of all it's common names, my favorite is Roving Sailor! There are hybrids/cultivars if you want to stray from the species:  Maroon Beauty, Tricolor. 

Plants: Forest Farm has Maroon Beauty. Glasshouse Works has Tricolor.

Some Japanese culinary dishes have Strawberry Begonia leaves and flowers in them.

Plant Delights says Saxifraga is Latin for stone breaker, indicating the stolons ability to grow between rocks and their roots cracking the rocks open as they grow. And that rock garden reference is a reminder about their need for drainage!

26 April 2014

Polemonium reptans is Jacob's Ladder or Greek Valerian for shady places

 Beautiful blue flowers are on the Polemonium reptans in the shade garden. Planted just a year ago, they emerged this spring a little larger than when they came out of the pots. The flowers have lasted a week so far.

They are native to MO and are seen throughout the eastern US. They are cold hardy in zones 3 to 8.

My hope is that they like where they are planted enough to make and spread seed all over that bed!

In colder zones they prefer full sun but here in zone 7 they definitely need a shady spot. Plant them in  a place that stays moist from humus rather than from being watered all the time.

Its other name, Creeping Jacob's Ladder imply that it spreads by stolons but they do not spread by underground growth.

The Jacob's Ladder name comes from the arrangement of the leaves that resemble the rungs of a ladder.

In nature they thrive in woods and along streams. While they have no insect or disease problems they can be killed if their roots stand in water or if they are not watered during and extended drought.

This is another plant with a dozen names, some of which indicate its medicinal uses, including Abcess Root, Greek Valerian and Sweatroot.

Missouri Wildflowers has plants at http://www.mowildflowers.net. If you prefer to start them from seed Plant World has 9 varities at http://www.plant-world-seeds.com/store/flower_seed_categories/POLEMONIUM_SEEDS

There are lots of comments online about people's failure to succeed with the non-native varieties, so if you are looking for easy to grow, stick with the native variety.

24 April 2014

Garden Tour in Tulsa - Beth Teel's home garden

Tulsa Garden Club’s annual garden tour “Tulsa’s Treasures”
Ticket $10 includes three gardens
5707 S Birmingham AV, 6770 Timberlane RD and 7626 S Marion AV
Apr 26 10 to 5 Apr 27 12 to 5
Information 918­-260­-1095

Beth Teel
Beth Teel loves to garden and loves to share her garden with visitors. Hers is one of three gardens featured on this year’s “Tulsa’s Treasures” garden tour sponsored by Tulsa Garden Club.

The proceeds from the tour are used to help fund a variety of projects at the rose garden, arboretum, and Up with Trees.

Teel, a retired special education teacher, turned to gardening several years ago and has been creating a relaxing place to appreciate plants ever since.  Her husband Paul is her help-mate in making their gardens inviting.

Probably what is most unique about Teel’s garden is that it is mostly shaded, and yet, she has found a wide variety of plants to fill the flower beds that surround the house and grounds.

Cypress Gold Thread
“What I really love is color, texture and contrast,” said Teel. “I like to combine lime green next to purple, for example a Gold Thread Mop Cypress next to a Blue Atlas Cedar.”

Beth is making it easy for tour participants. She printed a plant list and also painted metal plant markers black and printed the name of each plant in gold. The identification tags are visible if you look, but not distracting.

Teel said, “I love Tiarellas. They work well with Coral Bells, Lenten Roses, Caladiums and Begonias.”

Tiarella, or foamflowers, are woodland native plants from North America and Asia. The plants spread by runners to form small clumps, with heart-shaped leaves, and starry white-pink flowers in the spring.

Visitors will notice that the Teels repeat plant selections on all sides of the house. There are several plantings of Japanese Maple Ever Red and two Deodar Cedar varieties: Desajio and Feelin’ Blue.

“We have only Velour crape myrtles,” Teel said.  “I like them to be consistent.”

To the right of the driveway there is a daylily, bed and a bed of herbs, vegetables and flowers. On the left there is a bed with a blooming dogwood tree. At the front door Teel said she puts containers of seasonal interest such as pansies.

The Japanese Forest Grass in the front door and side beds is variegated with interesting seed-heads rising above the leaves. Also in that bed are Blue Hawaiian Hosta, Azaleas, Plum Yew and Lorapetalum.

“We had some winter damage this year,” Teel said. “Leaf tips and flower buds were affected by the late freeze.”

Toad Lily Samurai
Around the corner visitors will appreciate Toad Lily Samurai, more Tiarella, and other shade loving perennials.

When visitors enter the back garden through the arched gateway, they are brought into an appealing area of lawn surrounded by beds and containers of trees, shrubs and flowers.

 “The white limestone rocks that edge the flower beds were brought home in my car, a few at a time,” Teel said.  “They add so much to the garden and sometimes I plant little things in the holes in the rocks.”

That rock edge is lined with Wire Vine, Lamb’s Ears and assorted succulents such as Sedum Angelina, Stonecrop Ogon, and lime green Sedum Makino.

“Coleus is one of my favorite plants,” said Teel. “I add new ones from Rosy Dawn Gardens

In order to protect the young coleus plants from squirrels, rabbits and birds, Teel places bird cages over groups of plants adding a bit of whimsy.

There are three Eugenia topiaries in containers on the back patio. Also known as Australian Brush-Cherry, they naturally grow into tall, narrow shrubs. Teel said that in the winter, they live in the dining room, accenting holiday decorations.

The side yard gardens at Teel's home
The pleasure of garden tours is that they provide lovely strolls through unique and creative outdoor environments that can be enjoyed or studied.

17 April 2014

Dyck Arboretum of the Plains, Hesston KS

Dyck Arboretum of the Plains 
177 West Hickory ST, Hesston KS  $2 admission
FloraKansas Native Plant sale April 25 to 28 call for hours or check the website. Native wildflowers & grasses
Arboretum hours – daily from sunrise to sunset

There is no doubt that a prairie garden is the ultimate low maintenance, low water usage and environment friendly choice for gardeners. But, many homeowners assume that it would mean a messy yard and landscape to look at.

“The more examples of native plant gardens people see, the more they realize the beauty of native plants,” said Scott Vogt, Executive Director of the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains.

The Arboretum was established in 1981 as a gift to Hesston College from Harold and Elva Mae Dyck when they bought 13-acres and donated it to Hesston College to be used prairie restoration garden.

Today the Arboretum is one of the largest native plant gardens in the region, featuring over a thousand varieties of native and adapted trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses. Another 18 acres has been purchased and to be developed into a native plains garden. 
Scott Vogt

 “We teach native plant landscaping classes for homeowners,” Vogt said. “Participants bring drawings of their yard and we help them select native plants and explain how to prepare the site and arrange the plants to best advantage.”

When class participants complete their first native plant bed, they always come back for the annual plant sale because they found that they can have beautiful gardens with less work, less water and plenty of butterflies. Vogt said they like it because it works.

“Establishing a prairie garden is not effortless,” Vogt said.  “If it were easy it would be called growing, not gardening.”

Seeds for the gardens at Dyck Arboretum were collected from within 60-miles of Hesston so they would be indigenous to the area. The plants for the gardens are grown from seed, stem cuttings and root division in the on-site greenhouse.

Their annual plant sale April 25 to 28 will offer thousands of native woodland plants that were grown by staff and volunteers.

Two acre wildlife pond
 “We go out onto the grounds and collect seeds,” said Vogt. “Additional seeds come from companies like Missouri Wildflower Seeds (www.mowildflowers.net) where seeds are also hand collected.”

At the Arboretum website there are many educational resources. Specifically, the Spring 2014 newsletter, “Prairie Window” link provides garden layouts as well as lists of recommended perennials, ferns, and grasses. Each entry lists the Latin and common name, flower color, plant height, bloom time, sun and soil preferences.

In addition to being a beautiful place to enjoy seeing plants and pollinators, Dyck Arboretum’s mission is to involve the community.  They offer a class in Gardening with Insects, art shows, and music festivals. Over 150 volunteers and a staff of 4 keep the arboretum and its activities going.

Art along the path
There are paths to walk, a two-acre pond where visitors can watch wildlife, and butterflies to enjoy.

 “Earth Partnership for Schools Summer Institute” in June brings teachers from all over the region who learn to engage K-12 students in prairie gardening on school grounds. An outline of their Multiple Intelligences curriculum is available on the website.

“When visitors see the spring native plants blooming from the end of April to mid-May, they say it was not what they expected,” said Vogt. “They are surprised by the beauty.”

Spring-blooming native plants include: Penstemon, Echinacea pallida and Zizia aurea. Summer flowers include Asclepias tuberosa, Rudbeckia fulgida and Monarda fisulosa. Fall color comes from Solidago, Asters, and Sedum (a non-native adapted plant). In the winter the arboretum is dominated by grasses such as Panicum virgatum Northwind, Schizachyrium scoparium Blaze, Andropogon gerardii Pawnee, and Sporobolus heterolepis.
Native grasses add winter interest

Although Hesston is 30-miles from Wichita KS, Hesston’s population is only 4,000.

Vogt said, “Very few cities with our population embrace an arboretum. We are unique to have one this size with so much community involvement.”

13 April 2014

Mid-April Edibles in Progress! Zone 7

It's early in the spring and we have a hard freeze coming but here's a bit of what's happening in our back yard other than the daffodils and tulips -


Apple blossoms

Arkansas Black Apple flowers

Snow peas

Shallots grown from seed almost ready to be planted


Native Peach tree blossoms

Thornless blackberries

It's a start! In the shed I've transplanted chard, kale, dill and lettuce seedlings. Most of the seedlings have only one set of leaves and are not ready to be transplanted to pots yet but they are making good progress.

April is Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month

April is only half over so there is still time to participate in Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. The Bugwood Blog from the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health reported the story in detail.

Here are some highlights - click the link above to read the entire blog entry - great blog!

Each year during April, USDA amplifies its public outreach about the risks that invasive plant pests, diseases and harmful weeds pose to America's crops and forests—and how the public can prevent their spread.  These non-native, destructive species can seriously harm the economy, environment, or even human health.
“Invasive species threaten the health and profitability of U.S. agriculture and forestry, and the many jobs these sectors support,” said Kevin Shea, Administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  “To protect that crucial value, USDA and its partners work hard every day to keep invasive pests and diseases out of the United States and to control those that may slip in.  This April, we’re asking all Americans to be our partners in this critical work.” 
Invasive plant pests and diseases can jeopardize entire industries such as U.S. citrus or hardwood timber.  For just one disease— huanglongbing (HLB or citrus greening), in one state, Florida—the losses are alarming: more than $4.5 billion in lost citrus production from the 2006/07 to 2010/11 production seasons.  One invasive pest, the emerald ash borer beetle, has destroyed tens of millions of American ash trees in our forests and communities.  Scientists have estimated the cost of all invasive species to all economic sectors to be approximately $120 billion yearly.
APHIS is asking Americans to visit HungryPests.com to learn what invasive plant pests and diseases are in their state or threaten it.  
Learn the “Seven Ways to Leave Hungry Pests Behind,” such as buying firewood where you burn it, or only moving treated firewood if you must bring it with you.  Such simple actions could save a forest or an entire industry from devastation by invasive species.  Individual citizens play a vital role. This month, be on the lookout for videos, articles and social media buzz on invasive species and how to stop their spread.  Start by joining the conversation on the Hungry Pests Facebook Page.

10 April 2014

Bartlett Arboretum - Unique Experiences Await Visitors

Robin Macy and her husband, Kentucky White, live at Bartlett Arboretum where they are stewards of a garden that was built in 1910 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Arboretum, at the corner of Highway 55 and Line Street, is at the edge of Belle Plaine, a little Kansas town south of Wichita, population 1,680.

The house at Bartlett Arboretum
In April and May, while the daffodils and hellebores begin to fade, the Arboretum positively shines with blooming wisteria and the 36,000 tulips lovingly planted by Macy and a team of volunteer gardeners.

An arborist who lives in the hexagon-shaped residence on the property continuously works to maintain
the 20 State Champion trees, as well as caring for the more recently planted trees and shrubs.

Macy said, “I am in the garden every moment there is daylight, except for the hours I spend writing
grant proposals, organizing group tours, doing the paperwork, speaking to promote the garden and
other things that keep the Arboretum going.”

Dr. Bartlett
When visitors walk through the main gate across the street from the parking lot, they face the historic
home on the property built in 1914 by Dr. Walter Bartlett (Video of the Arboretum’s history -http://

From there the path to the left leads to formal gardens outlined with dwarf boxwoods, then down and around to the back of the home where the property can be fully viewed.

The path to the right of the house leads through shady gardens, to the main shade garden, across an
arched bridge and toward the outdoor amphitheater, croquet lawn, classroom building and train depot.

Every path is lined with flowers, shrubs and mature trees to admire. Be sure to grab a map of the trails
and plantings.

The dozens of gardening volunteers, the grants Macy has won and the gifts of friends and visitors have turned Bartlett Arboretum around. When Macy first discovered the property in 1997, she was a math
teacher and musician in Dallas on her way to a blue grass festival.

The owners’ granddaughter was on the property sorting through heirlooms when Macy asked about
purchasing it. Since then, Macy has poured her teacher’s salary into the gardens, renovated the house
and grounds, installed a donated train depot and repurposed it into a classroom and event venue, dug
new irrigation wells, built an amphitheater, created a wildflower meadow, brought renowned musicians
and artists for weekend performances and retired from teaching.

Primarily, Bartlett Arboretum is a haven for everyone who loves gardens and nature, music, crafts, art,
history, environmental education, and fun events. So far, that includes thousands of visitors from all
over the world annually.

Robin Macy in her life's work
Volunteers are the backbone of Bartlett Arboretum. While we were there last week landscape designer
Kim Oblack and Master Gardener Rosalie Hatfield were hard at work in the Terrace O’Paris and the Rose Garden, preparing for the hundreds of guests scheduled to arrive from Tulsa this week.

Soil Sister and Brothers volunteers are gardeners, event cooks, wedding planners, bee keepers, art
shows organizers, and concerts workers. They provide beer making classes, build decks and shape paths.

The Shady Lady volunteers maintain the large shade gardens. The wildflower-prairie garden was planted by 100-volunteers in an area that was bermed and shaped when the property’s Euphrates Creek was dredged and the rich creek soil had to be repurposed.

Chip china backsplash in depot
Go to the website for details about their June croquet party, the chip china classes, concerts or to visit
the garden.

Macy’s group the Cherokee Maidens will play a concert at the Arboretum on May 11. They are
negotiating a performance at Muskogee’s Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame for October, 2014. Her
husband, Kentucky White, former member of the Dixie Chicks, will perform at the Arboretum on Dec 14.

09 April 2014

Tulsa Botanic Garden - April events

At Tulsa Botanic Garden visitors can stroll the Garden’s Lake trail for a self-guided tree walk.

The Garden is located eight miles northwest of downtown Tulsa just west of the intersection of W. 43rd St. N and N. 52nd W. Ave. Directions and a map to the Garden can be found at www.tulsabotanic.org. Phone 918-289-0330.

The Garden will be open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the end of October, and will
offer various programs each Saturday such as gardening talks, plant walks, and drop-in activities for families.

Suggested donation for admission is $2 for adults and 50¢ for children 12 and under. Admission is free for Garden members.

 Located on a 170-acre site, the Garden currently includes a visitor center, a 7-acre lake with a three-
quarter mile trail that includes some of the Garden’s first plantings. In 2013, garden staff and volunteers planted 1,200 perennials, tropicals, roses and shrubs to display beds surrounding the lake.

This January, they added 7,000 bulbs and expect to add even more plants this spring.

“With infrastructure projects nearly completed, we will soon have water more accessible on the site,
allowing us to add to our planting beds around the Lake trail. Our visitors last year enjoyed strolling the path and seeing the ever-changing palette of plants as well as the progress being made in our overall development,” said Lasseigne.

April Activities 
Saturday, April 12 10 a.m. Plant Survivors: A Walk and Talk where you can join Garden CEO Dr. Todd Lasseigne for a walk and talk to look at what plants are faring best in our Oklahoma weather. Learn tips on protecting your plants from the harshest weather conditions. Meet at the Garden visitor

Saturday, April 19 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Kites at the Garden with Tulsa Wind Riders Kite Club
Bring the family to enjoy a spring day at the Garden! Members of the Tulsa Wind Riders Kite Club will be at the Garden from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. flying their amazing kites. Kids can decorate and make their own kite from kits provided by the Wind Riders Club ($3 donation for kit).

Saturday, April 26 11 a.m. Gardening Strategies to Attract Butterflies
Master Gardener Jim Thayer will share tips on what plants and garden features will help attract butterflies to your landscape. Jim will also identify the species of butterflies that you’ll be most likely to see.

07 April 2014

Invasive and Exotic Species of North America

We gardeners are responsible for leaving the invasives out of our shopping carts and removing them from our gardens, woods, ponds, etc. And, they don't just have invasive plants.

When in doubt, check out the lists

Invasive dot org

They can boast of
  • 2,837 Invasive Species
  • 1,885 species with images
  • 58,101 images
  • Images of Invasive and Exotic Species


    05 April 2014

    Easy to Use Tree Identification -

    University of Wisconsin K-12 Forestry Education site

    We dig up baby trees before the first hard freeze and let them have a winter in the shed. Then, in the spring when they leaf out we have to find out what they are - compost, burn pile or planting trees.

    This site worked well this morning to identify a Chokecherry tree that had leafed out in the shed.

    We have so many little trees out there and most of them I've learned to pull out immediately. But, there are others that don't make as many offspring as elm! So I go searching - check this out when you need to know -


    Follow the key with your tree nearby
    Dichotomous Tree Identification Key
    What is a dichotomous key? A dichotomous key is one tool that can be used to identify trees. This type of key is also used for flowers, animals, rocks, fish, and more!
    A dichotomous key contains a series of choices that lead the user to the correct name of an item. "Dichotomous" means "divided into two parts." Therefore, a dichotomous key will always give you two choices in each step.
    How to use this key
    1) Use the leaves from a tree or find a picture of a tree you want to identify and click on the most appropriate match to the right.
    2) Click one of the numbers below to identify one of our mystery trees. If you end up with two matching pictures you have identified the tree correctly.

    03 April 2014

    Organic Pesticides

    The alarm bells have been ringing for several years about the decline of butterflies, bees and the other pollinators that provide food for the world. Without pollination there are few grains for animals, and no pollinated flowers for the production of fruits, herbs and vegetables.

    As spring gardens are getting started, the timing was perfect for Barry Fugatt, Director of Tulsa Garden Center, to bring Dr. Raymond Cloyd from Kansas State University to fill us in on the latest research. Cloyd is a professor of entomology who has spent decades studying the benefits, harm and uselessness of various products that are labeled organic pesticides. 

    Cloyd said there is lots of misinformation out there about organics since there is no such thing as an organic pesticide. There are selective pesticides made of materials found in nature but most of them either cause harm to beneficial insects, birds and fish or are a waste of your money.

    “The problem is that people want insects dead,” said Cloyd. “Most gardeners want the most lethal chemicals available and when they go to the garden centers they cannot know what all those bottles are.”

    Throughout his entertaining and information-packed talk to 100 Master Gardeners, Cloyd emphasized that natural and organic are not the same.

    “Organic is a system of growing without toxic and chemical pesticides or fertilizers,” Cloyd said. “Organic gardening products that consumers see in advertising and stores imply that they are safer and they are not.”

    Gardening products found in stores may be identified with the letters OMRI (www.omri.org) which stands for the Organic Materials Review Institute. That certification indicates that the product can be used on food in an organic garden but it does not indicate that the product is harmless.

    “Always use the least toxic method or combination of methods that regulate or suppress the pests,” Cloyd said. “In particular, avoid conventional pesticides that kill everything, such as Organophosphates (Malathion and acephate or Orthene), Neonictonoids (broad spectrum nicotine pesticides such as Imidacloprid or Merit), and Carbamates (such as Carbaryl or Sevin)”.

    It is best to identify the insect that is causing the problem and apply a selective product such as Neem Oil (BioNeem or Azadirachtin), Pyrethrins (Piperony plus Butoxide), Bacillus thuringensis (BT worm killer or Dipel), Rotenone, Spinosad, or Linalool (Linalool is toxic to aquatic life).

    While BT works well to kill cabbage caterpillars, it also kills butterfly caterpillars that eat the treated leaves. BT can also be effective against mosquitoes and fungus gnats.

    Select insecticidal soaps and horticultural or petroleum based oils over any other products to maximize safety to the environment, helpful insects, pets, wildlife and humans.

    Products that are sold for insect control that are generally considered to be a waste of money include: Diatomaceous Earth, essential oils in various combinations, garlic, citrus, etc.

    Use Dipel and Spinosad for small bagworms. Use insecticidal oil or soap for squash bug eggs and nymphs. Rosemary oil will kill spider mites but so will a hard spray of water from the hose. Thyme oil is marginally effective. Sulphur is an excellent miticide and cure for powdery mildew.

    “The key is to use the least toxic methods available to reduce pests without significantly disrupting the ecosystem or environment while protecting plants,” Cloyd said. “Maximize the effects of less harmful methods by applying them when larva and adults are present, thoroughly covering of every inch of the plant, and, by applying at the frequency recommended on the label.”

    The lower-impact methods kill fewer bees, earthworms, lady beetles, lacewings, birds, fish, and frogs while non-selective methods kill everything that contacts them.

    One of Dr. Cloyd’s lectures is on YouTube at http://bit.ly/1pAgzMV. Pesticide information http://bit.ly/1lpiXJ9. Pollination video http://bit.ly/1ek0Mjf

    01 April 2014

    Midwest Weeds Identification website from Missouri State University

    Here's a handy site I have never seen before with weed identification photos and names
    called Midwest Weeds - I'm weeding, dividing, planting, seeding, cleaning beds so this is particularly useful.


    Missouri State University > Pamela Borden Trewatha > Midwest Weeds

    Midwest Weeds (updated October 17, 2013)

    Turfgrass Weeds:
    Crop and Garden Weeds:
    Pasture, Range and Roadside Weeds:
    Aquatic and Wetland Weeds/Plants:
    • Click below to see a list of aquatic and wetland weeds and plants featured on this site that are frequently found in wetlands, streambanks and aquatic areas