30 June 2014

Garlic - easy to plant, grow and harvest

The garlic planted last October was harvested over the past couple of weeks and it's now hung in the garden shed to dry.

Much of what we planted came from our own seed which is simply cloves of garlic that we harvested a year ago. We decided that any variety that lasted from one harvest to the next planting deserved to get another run.

In addition, we purchased some garlic heads from a mail order source that we have found to be reliable.

The winter was wetter than it has been for a few years and the spring was cooler so it took a week or two longer for the garlic to mature into cloves..

The first time I planted garlic was after a how-to workshop with Tulsa's garlic man, Darrell Merrill. When I tried to harvest that first planting, I went into a panic because the head looked like an onion not garlic with cloves.

Darrell was very patient with me and explained that it just needed to stay in the ground another couple of weeks.

If you haven't discovered how easy it is to plant this delicious crop, stop by your local farmers market and pick up a head, separate the cloves and plant them this fall. Next summer each clove will have become a head.

Here are Darrell's garlic growing tips
http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/GIL_ORG/tips.htmlhttp://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/GIL_ORG/tips.html

This article says that Oklahoma Rocambole was grown by Darrell's mother for 25 years before he came to growing things (he was a banker for many years).
http://garlicescapes.wordpress.com/category/joel-girardin/

http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/GIL_ORG/bios/bio_D_Merrell.html

http://www.jmbzine.com/2008/04/25/in-memory-of-the-tomato-man-darrell-merrell/

28 June 2014

Meidiland Alba Rose

We visited a garden last week and the homeowner gave us one of her roses. The parent was given to her by a friend who said it is a Meidiland Alba. I'm not a rose grower so cannot argue. I'm just thrilled to have one of these beauties added to our garden!

Those clusters of flowers are so dramatic that our fiend said having one is like have snow in summer.

The reason I'm wondering about her friend's naming of the plant is that Meidiland Rose is a ground cover rose and this plant was 8 or 10 feet tall. It was in part shade due to being at the back of a flower bed with trees behind. I wonder if it was climbing a tree.

Meidiland is hardy in zones 4 to 10 and resists disease. They do not have to be dead headed as they are self-cleaning, though removing spent flowers encourages more blooming. They have to be watered regularly and fertilized during the growing season. Must have 5 hours of full sun every day or they will die from the roots.



26 June 2014

Bluebird Farm -Crescent OK - home of Phil and Frances Macy

When Phil and Frances Macy were friends and then sweethearts at Crescent OK high school, they never could have imagined that they would be the ones who would restore the family land and farmhouse in their retirement. 

The house was already 20-years old when Phil’s ancestors bought it over 100 years ago. The original floors of the 800 square-foot home have been restored and many original features have been preserved.

“My mother was born in this house,” said Phil. “And, she was able to celebrate her 100th birthday in it three years before her death in 1959.”

The Macys lived in many locations around the country and when they retired in 1997 they moved from St. Louis to Edmond. Restoration at the family farm and building the landscape began in 2000.

Now called Bluebird Farm, the Murry-Wilson-Macy property north of Crescent earned an OK Centennial Landmark designation and the Foucart Award for Preservation.

“When we started, there were no trees and no gardens,” said Frances. “I wanted to create a history of pioneer women on the land so I started by planting everything the local people gave us.”

Today, the gardens are a reflection of 15-years of planting, tending and weeding what was a 320-acre piece of central OK prairie.

“We started making the gardens with three peonies from my mom’s garden,” said Frances. “All this became possible when we dug the second well to have enough water-pressure to irrigate 5-acres.”

Plants shared by friends and family include the Larkspur from her mother’s neighbor in Guthrie, red Yarrow from a friend in Cushing, and a slip of White Meidiland Rose from a friend.

When a friend of the Macy’s decided to downsize her tree nursery she invited them to pick out whatever they could use. The next week, the friend arrived with a truckload of trees that begin building Bluebird Farm into what now is a beautifully wooded and shaded lot.

In the front yard, male persimmon trees have taken hold, reproducing shade trees that allow sun to fall on the ground below.

At the back of the house, the 120-year-old well-house and storm shelter have been surrounded with garden, an arbor, and a shaded seating area. The rock path between the house and the smoke house was laid by Phil’s grandfather, Alfred Murry.

In addition to the beds that are stuffed with Lamb’s Ears, Joe Pye Weed, Phlox Victoria, Knockout Roses, pink flowering Weigela shrubs, Nepeta Walker’s Low, canna lily, hosta, daylily, Sedum Autumn Joy, Crape Myrtles, and other perennials, Frances plants hundreds of seeds every year.

“Every year I plant seeds of zinnias, hyacinth beans, tithonia, cleome, cosmos, marigolds, moonflowers, morning glories, agastache, and other flowers,” said Frances.

When the restoration of the original home was completed, the Macys built a second house next door where the entire family can stay when they come to visit.

Between the front gardens that surround the houses and the vegetable beds by the barn, there is a creekside gully planted with redbud and dogwood trees.

The fruit trees and vegetable garden are Phil’s projects. He grows root vegetables such as potatoes and onions as well as green beans and tomatoes. But, there is also dill to feed butterfly caterpillars. At the front corner of the vegetable bed, planted with herbs, is the wash tub that belonged to Frances’ mother.

The Macys have opened their gardens for events over the years. One year the fundraiser, “A Walk in Three Country Gardens”, raised money for the Frontier Museum in Crescent. They also open the garden to groups of painters who come to spend the day doing portraits of the flowers and the dozens of blue birds that live on the property.

22 June 2014

Formosa Lily in our Garden may be a Lily in the Pink Perfection Group

Formosa Lily
Formosa Lilies, Lilium formosanum, take center stage in mid-June, towering above all the other flowers in bloom. They are wonderfully easy to grow and require no special care to return year after year. Their other common names include Taiwan Mountain Lily and Philippine Lily.

The trumpet flowers attract some pollinators, especially butterflies, but mostly we grow them for their ability to grow 7 or 8 feet tall and add drama to the perennial beds.

Our first one came from Old House Gardens several years ago and it has multiplied many times over the years. Fine Gardening says they commonly multiply by seed.

They thrive in the heat, are scented, and cold hardy to zone 6. Old House Gardens says they came from Taiwan in 1880 then were successfully re-introduced in 1918.

Another resource says Robert Fortune, the English horticultural botanist visited Taiwan in 1854 and called them Lilium japonicum. Fortune is thought to be the first westerner to ever visit Taiwan collecting plants. In his book, "A Residence Among the Chinese" he says that it is the largest and most lovely lily he had ever seen.

Interestingly, they are considered endangered in Taiwan and they are considered invasives in south Africa where homeowners are asked to remove and discard the bulbs. New Zealand also considers them to be an "unwanted species" and requests that citizens remove them when found.

For the rest of us, they are a celebration of summer heat and being outside in the garden.

If your Formosa lilies form seedpods and you would like to try your hand at planting the seeds rather than increasing your stock by dividing the bulbs, there are easy to follow directions on an east Tennessee garden blog called Fairegarden. Click here to read all about planting them from seed.


Since this post went up, several people have weighed in on the precise identification. Pacific Bulb Society agrees with the bulb seller that it is a Formosa Lily. Horticulturist Russell Studebaker thinks not and his friend Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery says it is a member of the Pink Perfection Group.


Trumpet lilies belong to Division 6, Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrids on the classification of lilies. Division 6 includes hybrids of L.leucanthum, L. regale, L. sargentiae and L. sulphureum. Aurelian hybrids are lilies that has Lilium Henryi in their ancestry.


So, I'm sharing a bulb with Studebaker and Avent so they can grown them and make the final determination for themselves.


19 June 2014

Abelias attract butterflies but deter deer and rabbits

Abelia shrubs, members of the Honeysuckle plant family, are staples of gardens in warm climates. While some are hardy in only in zones 8 and 9, plenty of them grow well in areas where there are freezing winter temperatures. Gardeners who want carefree beauty either already have or will want to have Abelias in the landscape or in containers. They require little care and live for decades.

Plus, plant breeders introduce new ones every year with better growing tolerances, different sizes at maturity, leaf shapes and flower colors. They are a great choice for part-sun locations in shrub borders, informal hedge and foundation plantings where their flowers and scent will be enjoyed.

Abelia planted under a small tree
If you are planting new shrubs, select a location with some wind protection in part-shade. Prune in late-winter but only to maintain shape, remove dead wood or rubbing branches. New shrubs should be thoroughly watered and then soaked once a week during summer, unless it rains an inch. They thrive in average, well-drained soil. Do not fertilize.

These Abelias are suited to zone 7 or colder areas -

Chinese Abelia (Abelia chinensis) varieties are a standard in butterfly gardens since the flowers last from June to frost. They thrive in moist, acid, well-drained soil with part shade.

Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora), a relative of Chinese Abelia, was introduced 150 years ago and remains one of the most popular shrubs on the market. Some of the standards are: Canyon Creek, Francis Mason, Golden Fleece, Kaleidoscope, Little Richard, Mardi Gras, and Rose Creek.

Each variety of Glossy Abelia is unique in either flower color, size at maturity or leaf color and shape. For example, Canyon Creek’s leaves are bronze when they first emerge and become gold-
yellow. The spring flowers are 2-inch long, tubular shaped, and pink.

Kaleidoscope, Gold Dust and Canyon Creek are grown for the appeal of their flowers, leaves and graceful arching form.

The leaves of Kaleidoscope (Abelia x grandiflora Kaleidoscope) are soft yellow with green centers in spring, turn gold in summer and become greens, yellows and red-rose in cold weather.

The flowers are fragrant and soft white-pink and persist longer than any other Abelia. The shrubs grow 2-feet tall and 3 or 4 feet wide and can remain green in mild zone 7 winters.

Abelia x grandiflora Twist of Lime and Twist of Orange from Greenleaf Nursery are recent introductions. Twist of Lime has yellow leaves with green centers that mature to ivory and green.

The flowers are white-pink from summer to fall. Planted in sun to part-shade in zone 6 or higher,

Twist of Lime slowly matures to a 4-foot tall and wide mound.
Abelia Twist of Lime

Twist of Orange grows the same size but with a twist of red-orange coloring on the leaves and stems. Here’s a link to photos and descriptions of all the Greenleaf Nursery Abelias http://hort.li/1nTK.

Abelia Bronze Anniversary prefers part-sun. It matures at 3 or 4 feet tall and wide with white flowers. The leaves are bronze-orange in the spring and mature to lime-gold. The springtime flowers are white bells. Proven Winners recommends it for the center of a container planting with acidic, moist, and well-drained soil. Prune late fall or late winter since it blooms on new growth.

Abelia Pinky Bells has long-blooming large lavender-pink flowers on red stems and leaves in the spring. This variety can grow to 5 feet tall. They can be sheared every few years to maintain a smaller size. It is a cross between Abelia schumannii 'Bumblebee' and Abelia zanderi 'Little

Richard' with a strong root system and healthy growth.

This link will take you to the Proven Winners Abelias http://hort.li/1nTN.

Abelias attract butterflies but not rabbits or deer.

18 June 2014

Native Plants in West Virginia

Abram's Creek in Elk Garden, West Virginia must be a gorgeous place! There's a lodge, event center, campgrounds, etc.

What brought it to my attention is the photos of the plant life/botany portion of the website.

The section of the website most interesting to plant people is called "Creatures, Flowers and Botany of Abrams Creek and is worth a look.

Click over to http://www.abramscreek.com/botany.html
to see the photos of native plants that appear to be thriving.

17 June 2014

Butterfly site illustrates187 American butterflies

The British Columbia Butterfly Atlas is online with all 187 North American Butterflies listed with family name, common name and Latin name.

The list provides photos from three butterfly atlas resources: British Columbia, Butterflies of Canada and Butterflies of America. Photos of adult and immature, chrysalis, and habitat are all included.

Click over and spend some relaxing moments enjoying and learning about our flying flowers
http://www.bcbutterflyatlas.ca/bc-checklist/

15 June 2014

Bustani Plant Farm in Stillwater OK

Steve Owens welcomed our group
Bustani Plant Farm in Stillwater OK is an incredible destination garden center!

Bustani is closed for the worst days of summer; reopens in the fall
Fall Hours: Sep 4-27, Tue-Sat, 9-6

Here are a few photos from our visit this weekend.
Gorgeous garden beds inspire visitors

one of the combination containers on site





One of the demonstration gardens at Bustani




Plant Identification Websites by Barbara Clark

Friends of the Garden posts a comprehensive list of plant identification sites available on the internet.


Here is the link http://thebotanicalcenter.org/internet-plant-sites


And, here is the list of links -

INTERNET PLANT SITES 

Editor's Note: This comprehensive list is compiled and updated by Friend of the Garden volunteer Barbara Clark. We don't think you'll find a more complete list of websites dedicated to plant identification and information anywhere! Thanks, Barb!


Here's Barb's bio - My interest in flowers and photography began by walking the Ozark Greenways trails. Seeing many unknown plants, both along the paths and in my yard from spreading seed, I began trying to identity each one. This became easier after I received a digital camera. Now I can look at a computer photo and compare it with one found on the Net.  From such searching, I have an ever growing list of Web sites. These can be viewed HERE. One plant was unknown for 2 years.  The  Nathanael  Greene/Close Memorial Parks were first seen while walking the South Creek Greenway Trail.    My interest in the gardens grew after picking up a Friends of the Garden bochure at the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden and talking with George Deatz. The development and growth of both Parks, which are now called, the Springfield Botanical Gardens, has been very impressive. With more gardens and attractions planned, I am so looking forward to photographing  the  beautiful plants and flowers.    


Please check out this site of Bob and Barb Kipfer which has amazing resource links to all sorts of organisms and very interesting articles. springfieldmn.blogspot.com/p/resources Many sites from there are listed below. New links are identified by an asterisk - *

INTERNET PLANT SITES Revised December 2013

RESOURCES

http://springfieldmn.blogspot.com/p/resources.html * Bob and Barb Kipfer
http://www.backyardnature.net/i-ident.htm *
http://www.ecosystemgardening.com/finding-native-plants.html * USA Native Plants
http://findnativeplants.com/ USA Native Plants continued * Carole Seville Brown
http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/organism_menu.htm * Organisms
http://grownative.org/native-plant-info/plant-picker/ * MO
http://www.ediblewildfood.com/ * Edible Plants
http://www.invasive.org/species/weeds.cfm * Invasive Plants
http://www.theplantlist.org/ *

ID SITES

Plantinformation@mobot.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it E-mail address for questions and pictures
http://2bnthewild.com/phvsixsc.htm Wildflower Key
http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Wildflowers
http://www.garden.org/plantfinder/
http://www.mywildflowers.com/ Also flower of the week
http://www.northernontarioflora.ca/index.cfm
http://www.ontariowildflowers.com/
http://www.pnwflowers.com/
http://www.realtimerendering.com/flowers/flowers.html
http://www.renyswildflowers.com/index.html
http://www.uni.edu/~andersow/wildflowers.html ID by number of Petals
http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/intermediate.asp?curGroupID=11 * Flowers

WILDFLOWER - PREFERRED SITES IN DESCENDING ORDER

http://www.missouriplants.com/ MO Dan Tenaglia Deceased
http://www.kswildflower.org/ KS
http://www.kywildflowers.info/earlyspring/index.html KY
http://www.easttennesseewildflowers.com/gallery/search_albums.php TN
http://www.ct-botanical-society.org/galleries/galleryindex.html CT

WILDFLOWER SITES

http://alabamaplants.com/index.html Al Dan Tenaglia Deceased
http://www.delange.org/ArizWFlowers/Wf.htm AZ
http://www.birdmom.net/wildflowerindex.html CA
http://herbarium.biology.colostate.edu/photo.htm CO
http://www.delawarewildflowers.org/index.php DE
http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/FieldGuide/fieldguide.html Desert USA
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/index.htm IL
http://www.kansasnativeplantsociety.org/gallery.php KS
http://www.missouriwildflowerguide.com/default.asp MO
http://www.dclunie.com/eshelton/wildflow/wildind.html * Northeast and North Central USA
http://www.all-creatures.org/picb/wfshl-photo.html NY Sleepy Hollow lake
http://www.ohio-nature.com/ohio-wildflowers.html OH
http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/okwild/toc_date.html OK
http://www.pbase.com/richarda/wildflowers&gcmd=add_ OK
http://www.westernpawildflowers.com/ * Pennsylvania
http://inspirezone.org/wildflowerindex.html TN Southern Appalachian/Blue Ridge Mountains
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/wildseed/photogallery/index.html TX
http://www.sbs.utexas.edu/bio406d/PlantPics_archive.htm TX
http://wildflower.org/gallery/ TX Lady Bird Johnston Center
http://uswildflowers.com/ USA
http://www.prairiefrontier.com/ WI

PLANT SITES

http://www.arhomeandgarden.org/plant_week.htm AR
http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/ Better Homes and Gardens
http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/annual/ *BHG Annuals
http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/perennial/common-name/ * BHG Perennials
http://biology.missouristate.edu/Herbarium/Plants%20of%20the%20Interior%20Highlands/photographs_of_flowering_plants.htm Paul L.Redfearn, Jr. MSU
http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/flora/ CA
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/
http://digitalflowerpictures.blogspot.com/2012/07/ice-plant.html
http://www.duke.edu/~jspippen/plants/plants.htm Duke University NC
http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/22 * FL
http://www.floridata.com/index.cfm
http://www.flowerpictures.net/flower_database/flower_ID.html
http://www.frenchgardening.com/
http://healthyhomegardening.com/index.php?s=1
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantinfo.shtml MO
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/pib.asp MO Plants in bloom by month
http://www.ngb.org/index.cfm
http://www.noble.org/apps/plantimagegallery/index.aspx *
http://ozarksgardens.com/news/0/0/rOuzx/today-s-notes.html * MO Frank Shipe
http://www.perennials.com/content/
http://plants.usda.gov/index.html
http://www.robinssalvias.com/index.html Salvias
http://www.robsplants.com/plantlinks/
http://2bnthewild.com/index2.shtml * Southeastern USA
http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/plants/florane/list.htm * Wetland plants of Northeast USA

SEED AND NURSERY SITES

http://www.americanmeadows.com
http://www.bluestem.ca/ornamental-grass.htm
http://www.burpee.com/?cid=ppc
http://www.edenbrothers.com/store/flower_seeds.html
http://www.everwilde.com/store/All-wildflower-seeds-01.html
http://www.gracefulgardens.com/delphin.htm
http://www.greatgardenplants.com/index.php?pageId=1
http://www.naturehills.com/
http://springhillnursery.com/
http://www.thetreefarm.com/
http://www.westongardens.com/wgib%20starting%20page.htm
http://www.wildflowermix.com/
http://www.wildgingerfarm.com/index.htm

TREES

http://www.cookforest.com/articles/trees/visual-guide.cfm#menu *
http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Trees *
http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/intermediate.asp?curGroupID=10 *
http://www.mushroomexpert.com/trees/index.html8 *
http://ontariotrees.com/id/index.php *

WEED SITES

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/weeds_intro.html * CA
http://weedid.aces.uiuc.edu/ IL
http://courses.missouristate.edu/pbtrewatha/Midwest_Weeds.htm MO Great pics
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/ipmpestlist.asp MO Pest list
http://weedid.missouri.edu/index.cfm MO
http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/html_pubs/WEEDS/list.html * Northcentral USA
http://www.weedalert.com/weed_id.php PBI Gordon
http://oak.ppws.vt.edu/weedindex.htm * Virginia
http://www.klickitatcounty.org/weedcontrol/ContentROne.asp?fContentIdSelected=1244805053&fCategoryIdSelected=-767145940&fX=X WA

12 June 2014

New Plants 2014

Each year plant companies send trial plants to garden writers and public gardens in order to see how they grow in conditions across the country. At the end of the 12-month trial the arboretums, and writers report back to the seed and plant companies. You can see the results from 27 trial gardens at www.planttrials.org/TrialGardens.

Oklahoma State University experiments with vegetable, flower and crop seeds. The crop results are online at www.croptrials.okstate.edu and the vegetable trial results are at http://hort.li/1naX. The Dallas Arboretum trials hundreds of ornamental plants each year and their reports are at www.dallasplanttrials.org.

Blooms of Bressingham and Proven Winners are two of the companies that sent small trial plants to garden writers this month.

Blooms of Bressingham sent bare root plants including double-white Dendranthema Icicle Igloo and yellow-flowering Dendramthema Sizzling Igloo. Dendranthema is the Latin name for cold-hardy mums.

All ten varieties in the Igloo series feature dozens of 2 to 5 inch flowers on each mum. The bare root plants they sent are now in clay pots with regular potting soil and they are already loaded with flower buds.

One of their other wonderful selections is Foamy Bells, Heucherella Buttered Rum. This one is a 7-inch tall shade plant with caramel colored leaves and delicate white flowers. Cold hardy to zone 4 Buttered Rum tolerates hot, humid, summer weather but not wet soil.

Their Cranesbill, Azure Rush Geranium, returns with beautiful blue flowers each summer.

Proven Winners Color Choice sent a few of their new perennials including: Quick Fire dwarf Hydrangea, Superbena Royale Cherryburst, Salvia Colorspires Crystal Blue, Hibiscus Summerific Cherry Cheesecake and Buttonbush Sugarshack.

Quick Fire Hydrangea grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. The flowers that start in mid-summer and continue into fall are white when they first come out and become rose-pink as they mature. Unusual for Hydrangeas, Quick Fire can take full sun and can tolerate drought conditions. The flowers emerge on new wood so they are pruned late winter before the spring growth begins.

Superbena Royale Cherryburst is a trailing Verbena that spreads cherry red flowers across the ground. It is a new hybrid that resists powdery mildew, is heat and drought tolerant even in full sun.

The Crystal Blue Salvia is gorgeous with spikes of clear sky-blue flowers. Cold hardy to zone 3, it grows to 18-inches tall and 24 inches wide in full sun. Like all Salvias, butterflies flock to the flowers but deer and rabbits leave it alone.

The 7-inch flowers of Cherry Cheesecake Hibiscus are pink and white, resembling cherry juice on the top of a cheesecake. The shrub grows 4 feet tall and wide. It will tolerate any soil but needs regular watering to flower best. Heat and humidity tolerant, and cold hardy to zone 4, it blooms for several months over the summer even in part-shade. The petals are thick enough to withstand summer heat and wind.

The Sugar Shack Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidenta, has doubled in size in the short time since it arrived and will mature at 3 or 4 feet tall and wide. It is a native plant that tolerates wet soil found in bogs and water gardens. The white, fragrant flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds then form red fruit. At 12-feet tall, the native Buttonbush is too large for most home landscapes. Sugar Shack is half that size while retaining all the beauty in its leaves, flowers and fall fruit. You can shape them, cut to the ground in the spring or allow them to grow untamed.


Two of the new Proven Winners annuals are purple-flowering Dark Knight Alyssum, or Lobularia, and Superbells Frostfire with yellow-centered white flowers that are streaked with red.

11 June 2014

Crane fly surprises

If you are one of the people (like us) who see Daddy Long Legs or Crane flies and immediately think, "They kill mosquitoes" then like us, you have been misinformed.

They actually are a type of fly in the Tipulidae insect family and there are 4,000 kinds of crane flies.

And, not only do they not eat mosquitoes, they basically eat nothing at all but a little nectar since their lives last only a few days so they can mate and lay eggs.

Although the photo makes you wonder what the heck, their offspring are their reason for being. Not a cute child at all but there you have it. The grubs or larvae are called leatherjackets.

The larvae's main meal is dead wet leaves though sometimes they are guilty of enjoying grass roots.

Bug Squad is the main source of this post. You can subscribe, too.



09 June 2014

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars on Asclepias Tuberosa

Growing milkweeds is a wonderful thing and although we grow a few varieties, the Monarch's (Danaus plexippus) favorite seems to be the tropical sort (Asclepias tuberosa) with the bright orange flowers.

None of the milkweed varieties are perennial here in zone 7 so it has to be started by seed. The plants are challenging to locate and if you can find it, the cost is ridiculous, well, unless you want to have Monarch families.

The one year I purchased tropical milkweed, I dug it up in the fall and replanted it the following spring. That's always an option if you want to protect your investment. I start seeds each winter after a period of cold stratification in the refrigerator or by winter sowing in containers outside.

Monarchs are one of the few butterflies that migrate twice a year. We usually get a few in the spring but a lot in the fall. During the drought years they avoid us, seeking better egg laying ground but this year's rain should put them back in our gardens.

After the adult female lays a single egg, that egg will hatch in less than a week and the caterpillar starts eating. The caterpillar will grow to 2700 times its birth size in 2 weeks, molting 5 times. When the caterpillar is 3 weeks old, it will form one of those gorgeous green cases ringed with gold dots. In 5 weeks the new butterfly emerges, dries its wings and moves along its path north or south.

Recently I thought I saw Monarchs while outside weeding and pruning, but since other butterflies can resemble them when they flutter by so fast, I doubted my eyes. The caterpillars on the plants I saw today (photos above) reveal that they were indeed Monarchs.


As  you can see, other butterflies mimic the Monarch. Birds have learned to avoid Monarchs because they taste nasty and make them feel less than optimal - Monarch's primary food, milkweed, is toxic. So, other butterflies adapted for the safety of their survival. Click over to the UC Santa Barbara link above for a more detailed piece about that topic.

Skippers, bees, wasps, butterflies and all their flying friends are welcome in our garden. We feed them, put up bee houses, leave tall grass for their cover on rainy days and celebrate them when we see them.






08 June 2014

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar and Ruta graveolens

In the garden yesterday, two Giant Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars appeared on the Ruta graveolens.

These plants were started from seed several years ago 
and have grown to over 3 feet tall.

This is the ground under one of the plants. Those little Rue plants number about 50 and we have been giving them away by the dozens in order to provide more food for Giant Swallowtails.

This is an adult - photo from the Entomomlogy Dept., Univ. of FL. Click over to their link under the photo to learn more about this gorgeous winged wonder of our gardens.
Giant Swallowtail Papilio cresphontes




05 June 2014

Price Garden on Muskogee Garden Tour Saturday

Muskogee Garden Tour Saturday, June 7 from 9 to 3
$5 tickets include 4 home gardens plus Papilion at Honor Heights and a plant sale
Information: Marilyn Hinshaw 918-682-3601
­­­­­­­----------------------------------------
Harvey and Kay Price live in a 1909 three story home that they have lovingly restored. Since Price purchased the abandoned home in 1988, the landscape has been transformed from a weedy, corner lot that the neighbors brush hogged, into a series of gardens worth touring.

The dramatic view you get by driving by the home and garden on North Country Club RD is a small slice of the treasures seen on closer examination. 

The sidewalk from the street to the front door is lined on both sides with beds of boxwood shrubs, heavenly bamboo, daylilies and Whopper begonias.

The property line bed to the right is planted with perennials, trees, native plants and annuals. Look for dogwood and pawpaw trees, bearded iris, black eyed Susans, white and purple begonias, Artemisia and coleus. Also in that bed, look for native Figwort, Aromatic Aster, Hirta Rudbeckia and other selections from the Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour vendor, Wild Things Nursery.

Harvey Price said, “Kay and I both love working in the gardens. We are suckers for stopping at nurseries whenever we are on a road trip. We look for plants and garden art everywhere we travel.”

The 200 Whopper begonias and an equal number of other annuals came from Green Country Landscaping in Muskogee this spring. Many of the plants in the back yard came from Green Country Gardens in Tahlequah and Southwood Nursery in Tulsa. The large hanging ferns were purchased at a garden show at Utica Square in Tulsa and the daylilies in the driveway bed came from a nursery in Center TX. 


The bed that lines the driveway on the University ST side is filled with perennials and bordered with large yellow marigolds. Tucked into a shady area between the new carriage-house-garage and the house is a fern and coleus bed and between the garage and the gate to the back yard is a bed of roses.

“Since the last time we were on the Garden Tour, we have added several features,” Price said. “I am a self-taught woodworker so I designed and put in the pergola, deck, treehouse and now am restoring the decorative multi-layered finials on the fence posts in time for this year’s tour.”

Entering the back yard from the driveway, the deck, pergola and swimming pool are on the right. 

Down the entire back fence is a continuous bed of perennials, annuals, trees, planters and a pond.

Price said, “Kay and I are out here almost every day and in the evening. She planted all the containers you see in the gardens and on the porches.”

In the back, visitors will also see containers tucked into the borders. There is a double wash tub with ferns spilling out, two pelicans planted with moss rose, large boots of salvias, a concrete mother hen and chicks planted with succulent hens and chicks, and a clay pot with ceramic box turtles in residence.

Most of the back perennial border of trees, hydrangeas, hollyhocks, sunflowers and red perilla, is lined with Whopper begonias. Also look for the pond bed surrounded with yarrow, King Tut miscanthus, lilies, foxglove, hellebores, zinnias, hollyhock mallow and red hot poker.

“The rocks for the rock garden slide came from Oologah and the stones bordering the beds are ones we picked up along country roads,” Price said. “Kay planted the rock crevices with strawberries, herbs and flowers.”


Their vegetable gardens along the back border include lettuce, onions, tomatoes, peppers and herbs.


Harvey Price retired after 35 years as band director at Tahlequah High School and now is the part time band director at Grand View School. Kay is retiring this year from Irving Elementary in Muskogee where she was a school counselor.

04 June 2014

Green Cycler countertop compost maker

Here's an idea whose time has come: Green Cycler. It's a counter-top or under the counter compost shredder that grinds kitchen scraps into compostable pieces.

This is a great way to chop compost materials, especially if you compost in place or feed compost worms in a worm bin. What I like about using it -

It is easy to operate, turning the hand crank to chop the vegetable and fruit scraps.
The suction cups on the bottom work really well to prevent slipping.
The bin where the chopped food goes is large enough to be useful.

There are several versions to choose from. These are from the company website under the "shop" tab. Just glance at how many options there are and go to their link above and watch the video.


Sale!
  • Green Cycler Black Natural

    Green Cycler Basic Black

    $119.99 $99.99
  • Green Cycler Platinum 300 x 300

    Green Cycler Platinum

    $139.99
  • Sale!Costco Image

    Green Cycler Sterling

    $139.99 $129.99
  • Garden Green

    Green Cycler Garden Green V300

    $119.99
  • crystal-green

    Crystal Series — New Colors

    $119.99
  • crystal-pink-1024x1024

    Crystal & Pink -Women’s Health-

    $119.99



Crystal with Black
  • Crystal & Black

    $119.99

  • Self-contained, stainless-steel shredder cartridge handles tough to chop scraps. Snaps in and out for cleaning.
    Green Cycler Black Natural

    Green Cycler ALL Black

    $119.99
  • Extra Shredder Cartridge

    $25.00
  • Sale!zeofilter

    Super Green ZeoPacks

    $9.99 $5.99
  • Clear window gives you a birds-eye view of the shredding action.

    Hatch Lid