31 March 2015

How We Do It - Seedlings - growing and hardening off before planting

We cut pieces of mini-blinds and
mark seed type and date planted.
Here is  a pictorial essay about how we grow from seed. Most of the time seeds are planted in the clear plastic shells that contain berries. They let light in plus have drainage and air holes

Some containers are put outside in plant trays inside the fenced area of the little vegetable garden to reduce squirrel damage. Others are grown inside the garden shed which has lights and very low heat.

Seeds put outside are ones that need cold stratification (alternating freeze and thaw) in order to soak off or break through the outer seed coat.

The columbine seedlings were too thick to prick out individually for transplanting into separate containers so we planted tiny clumps of them into 1-inch cells where they will mature enough for us to make selections. The weakest will be tossed and the strongest will be transplanted.

Perennial seeds such as the Penstemon Carillo Rose and Carillo Red were planted one seed per cell of a 72-cell tray so they have been left to grow under lights.
As each of the seedlings gains strong stems and roots, it is transplanted into an individual container with its own tag.

These annual verbena seedlings sprouted in clam shells and were transplanted last week into 1-inch cells to grow roots.

After transplanting, seedlings are kept out of direct light while they adjust to their new, separate homes. When they perk up they are given direct access to the large fan that we run in the shed.

Then, depending on their size, light preference and stem strength, they will either go under lights or outside to be hardened off.

We rarely, if ever plant a seedling, rooted cutting or plant division that has not spent time outside becoming strong. Some start out in the sun if it is cool, but most start out with just a couple of hours of sun. We check them daily for moisture or sun problems.

The photo on the right is a snap of the inside of the shed with a thousand seedlings and plants in varying stages of growth. This is where we keep mature pots that will go outside after April 15th, our last average freeze date.

This is what it looks like at the outside/back of the shed with the sliding door open. There are several hundred seedlings, cuttings and plant root divisions there in various sized containers.

Before the recent hail and tornado scare they all went inside for protection. By the rain barrel in the one gallon containers are brown turkey fig trees grown from cuttings we took last year, swamp hibiscus grown from seed, pinks grown from root division, etc.

Hope this is informative for you dear readers. We never sell seedlings or plants. They are all planted on our 2.5 acres, donated, shared, or given away.

30 March 2015

Monarch Butterflies and their Look-Alikes

For those of us who are confused by butterfly identification, this is a great link with a quiz to reinforce learning.

The National Wildlife Federation published these helpful photos and descriptions. Click here to see the entire entry.

And, if you have time, click through to the other educational links they provide within the text.

When out in the garden we see all of these but by the time we look up from our task the butterflies have sensed our presence and moved on to the next set of pollen providing flowers!

The butterflies that spent the winter under leaf cover are showing themselves on these warm March days but the migrating varieties have yet to show themselves.

28 March 2015

Solanum dulcamara is Bittersweet Nightshade vine

Bittersweet Nightshade vine has purple flowers with yellow centers, just as other nightshade plants
Solanum dulcamara in our shade garden
have. Without planting it myself, a vine has sent up a single leaf in the shade garden. No doubt a gift from a bird, squirrel or other creature out there. 

In Germany as in the US the stems and leaves are used to make a topical treatment for eczema so it could be useful to keep it. 

The website Herbs 2000, says
"The homeopathic remedy dulcamara is prepared using the fresh green leaves and stems of the bittersweet plant, which is also known as the bitter nightshade, and used to treat a host of ailments, especially joint problems,skin conditions and complaints that have an influence on the mucus membranes."

On the other hand it has a reputation for creating woody vines that smother out nearby plants - most of which I value and pamper.

Its native ranges include Europe, Africa and Asia, so it is well established around the world. It is also on invasive lists for some states in the US. In WA, for example, it is considered a "weed of concern". 

Solanum dulcamara prefers rich, moist soil but will survive in half shade almost anywhere the birds leave the seeds.

Bittersweet flower
 And, of course since it is a nightshade plant (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant) it is poisonous though birds are not affected by eating the berries.

For the moment it gets a reprieve since I like the idea of providing cover for wildlife. But, if it gets to stay long-term it will be in a location farther toward the back of the property where wildlife is more likely to hang out.

27 March 2015

Saturday is Daffodil Day in Muskogee

Go beyond their “candlestick telephone” shape, and you might see that not all daffodils look alike. 
“Some are four inches tall with tiny blooms. Some are 20 inches tall,” said Martha Stoodley of the Muskogee Garden Club. “The blooms come in white, yellow, orange, even pink.”
Visitors can see such variety when at the annual Daffodil Day and Tea, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Thomas-Foreman Historic Home, 1419 W. Okmulgee Ave.
More than 3,000 daffodils surround the home, built in 1898 for Indian Territory judge John R. Thomas. 
“We have at least 15 varieties,” Stoodley said. “Two thousand bulbs were planted by the Garden Club three years ago. Last year, we added another 1,000, and in the winter we planted 600.”
Daffodil Day began several years ago, when the Garden Club discovered Oklahoma was the only state in the region without a daffodil festival, Stoodley said.
For $5, visitors to Saturday’s celebration can view the daffodils, while enjoying tea with sandwiches and cookies.
For $10, visitors can enjoy events at the home, as well as a trolley ride to and from Three Rivers Museum. The Muskogee Arts Council is marking Daffodil Day with a judged art show at the museum.
“We have daffodil paintings, sculpture. Someone has panted a garden bench,” said Liz Wells, past president of the Muskogee Art Guild.
Saturday’s celebration will go beyond daffodils and art works.
Muskogee County Master Gardeners will sponsor a plant sale at the Thomas-Foreman Home.
“There will be plants from their gardens, such as sedum and other succulents,” Stoodley said. “They will have day lilies, basil, thyme, vegetable starters — things you can take and put in your own garden.”
Master Gardener David Redding said he has grown Shasta daisies, Mexican fern, even naked ladies.
“Those are bulbs in which the foliage comes up before they bloom,” Redding said, adding that the ladies show their pink petals in August, after other flowers have finished blooming.

26 March 2015

Spring Flowers for Zone 7

Come celebrate spring in Muskogee Third Annual Daffodil Day, Saturday, 10 to 2
Three Rivers Museum and Thomas-Foreman Home 220 Elgin
Daffodils in bloom, Daffodil-Themed art contest
$10 both  museums, plant sale, art show and tea
The flowers of spring announce warmer temperatures and encourage us to get outside. The first show of daffodils, pansies, crocus and forsythia happening now will be followed by tulips, trilliums and azaleas.

It is time to focus on spring gardening, visiting public displays and garden centers where we can enjoy the early blooms. Here are some flowers to look for:

Pansies, Viola x wittrockiana – Whether you planted them last winter or early spring, warmer temperatures confirm pansies as one of the most cheerful flowers for containers and beds. They can be planted in part shade or sun as long as the soil is well-drained.

Grape Hyacinths, Muscare armeniacum, are already blooming. The lavender and purple blooms resemble clusters of grapes. Plant the bulbs among tree roots and they will naturalize, growing into larger clumps over the years.

Crocus has also started blooming in blue, purple, yellow and white. Fall-planted corms begin to bloom through the snow. Protect from squirrels.

Daffodils begin blooming in late Jan. and continue for a few months, depending on the variety. Their Latin name, Narcissus, is a result of their downward facing trumpet-shaped flower, reminiscent of the egotistical Narcissus in legends. Plant in the fall. Never prune the leaves unless they have turned yellow and fallen over. Bulbs multiply with abandon in full sun to part-shade. 

Yellow Trilliums, Trillium luteum, are ideal for a woodland setting where they can live for years in moist shade. The flowers die back when the heat arrives and then the leaves fade until next spring.

Bloodroot, Sanguinaria Canadensis, a member of the poppy family shows best when planted in masses in a woodland garden. This native can be allowed to naturalize in place. Plant them this spring for years of sweet, white flowers.

Tulip bulbs need a period of chill to bloom so they are planted in containers and flower beds in the fall. Sometimes referred to as “deer candy” they have to be well-protected. Though some do, most tulip varieties do not return the next year in zone 7 because our winters do not have a long enough cold period. Unlimited colors, shapes and sizes.

Redbud trees are considered a staple of southern gardens and make a beautiful show in bloom. Eastern Redbud, Cercis Canadensis, is the fastest growing and most commonly seen. Other varieties include: Alba (white flowers), Covey (weeping), Oklahoma (deep purple buds with rose-purple flowers), and C. c. texensis which is native to TX, OK and Mexico.

Azalea, Rhododendron, shrubs can be planted early spring and with care, can live for decades. Traditional types bloom in the spring but Encore Azaleas bloom in the spring, then set new wood and flower buds for a fall flush of flowers. Flowers can be single or double, half-inch to one-and-a-half inches across. Colors range from white to red with pinks and purples in the mid-range.

Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, thrives in part-shade. It is the most drought-tolerant variety. Like azaleas, they need sun to form flower buds and prefer the protection of a building or trees and evergreen shrubs.  Standard varieties mature at 9 feet tall; Munchkin is the dwarf selection.

Iris corms are planted in the fall for spring flowers in so many colors and color combinations that they are impossible to list. Give them full sun and keep the tops of the corms uncovered.

To help you plan next year’s spring garden, visit public displays and jot down the names of the plants you like.

Flowering Quince with daffodils
Woody plants with spring flowers include magnolia and dogwood trees, flowering quince, forsythia, hydrangea-azaleas peony and spirea shrubs.

Spring-blooming perennial flowers include: Oriental poppy, Anemone, Snowdrops, Oxalis, Violets, Candytuft, Columbine, Bleeding Heart, Lily of the Valley, Lenten Rose, and creeping Phlox.

24 March 2015

False Rue Anemone and Windlflower

False Rue Anemone
Isopyrum or Enemion biternatum
These darling little flowers are slowly spreading in the shade bed. The first time I noticed them there were only three or four roots and one flower. Today, there are several dozen tiny plants of False Rue Anemone, Enemion biternatum.

Every year when they come up I search for their name again since no matter what marker I put into that slope is washed away every winter by rain and melting snow.

It is easy to research though. Google Images responds cooperatively every year to my search for "tiny, woodland flowers with red stems".

False Rue Anemone leaf lobes
False Rue Anemone is easily confused with Windflower, Thalictrum thalictroides. Well, it is for my eyes and lack of experience trekking the woods. Here is the clincher - the depth of the leaf lobes.

Notice that they are deeply lobed. Then, click over to Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia.

You will see the difference immediately. Windflower leaves are similar but just different enough. If you consider the leaf shape, it is easy to accept that they are related to buttercups in the Ranunculae plant family. 

According to jstor.org related names include: Anemone lexingtoniensis, Enemion biternatum, Isopyrum biternatum and Isopyrum thalictroides
Red stems of Isopyrum

As summer heat comes, all evidence of False Rue Anemone disappears. It will reappear in the fall in some locations though I've never noticed it here.

The plants mature at 4 to 6 inches tall. Cold hardy to zone 4. Full to dappled shade. 

I've purchased many many seeds of native plants over the years. Most fail because we don't baby anything. Prairie Moon offers the seeds for you to try in your shady areas. 

22 March 2015

Save the Bees Campaign

Surely everyone knows by now that bees are in danger of disappointing people who eat by not being available to pollinate the plants that provide their food.

Now, there's a campaign where those of us who are not in a position to actually raise bees can help out the situation. It's a fund raising site at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/you-can-help-save-the-bees where you can contribute $10 or $10,000 to support the project.

Or, you can hold an event in support of bees and bee-keepers in your community to raise awareness. Here's a simple factoid of interest: Honey bees make honey. Native bees make food.

Click on over to The Xerces Society's page and learn more facts such as, "There is an astonishing diversity of native bees across the USA. About 4,000 species have been identified and catalogued, ranging in length from less than one eighth of an inch to more than one inch. They vary in color from dark brown or black to metallic green or blue, and may have stripes of red, white, orange, or yellow. Many common names reflect the way they build nests: plasterer bees, leafcutter bees, mason bees, wool carder bees, digger bees, and carpenter bees."

The website www.indiegogo.com has lots of ideas big and small, suggestions that will help you become involved.

19 March 2015

Dee Nash speaking in Tulsa at the Botanic Garden Apr 4 10am


Saturday, April 4, 2015 - 10:00am to 11:00am
Join native Oklahoman and author, Dee Nash, for a lively talk about all things growing.  Dee will inspire you as she shares tips for blending edibles with perennials in any garden, as well has how to prep, plant and grow specimen shrubs, perennials and tropicals that thrive in Oklahoma’s challenging conditions.
To keep up with Dee online, check out her award-winning blog, Red Dirt Ramblings.  Southern Living Magazine recently named Dee a “Blogger to Follow in 2015.” Better Homes and Gardens put Red Dirt Ramblings in their Top Ten in 2014, and she won the Garden Writers Association Gold Award for best writing in 2014
Dee is the author of The 20-30 Something Garden Guide: a No-Fuss, Down and Dirty, Gardening 101 for Anyone Who Wants to Grow Stuff. She will have books available for sale after her talk.
Garden author Dee Nash
For directions and details go to http://www.tulsabotanic.org. See you there!

18 March 2015

Buffalo Grass Plugs, Sod and Seeds

Gardens change a lot with our helpful direction or without it. It seems that every fall we change our minds about how we want to re-shape our 2.5 acre piece of solitude and source of inspiration and exercise "next year".

Last year the patch of Joe Pye Weed and other tall native butterfly feeder plants grew beyond the bounds of beauty and well past my ability to manage its spread.

So, I moved a dozen of the plants to new locations where they can thrive farther away from the house, Jon mowed it in the fall and now its ready for this season's change to Buffalo Grass.

Why Buffalo Grass? It is cold and drought tolerant, can be walked on, resists diseases, needs less mowing, etc. This Nebraska site points out that the roots go to 3-feet deep, finding moisture and bringing up nutrients. And, I love this quote, "Buffalograss adapts to a wide range of soil types but is
best suited for naturally fertile, clay, and loam upland soils, where maintenance requirements will be lowest."

Though most garden centers and big box stores sell mostly Bermuda and Fescue seed, Johnston Seed offers the seed. However, we don't want to start with seed, we want to start with plugs.

I called Johnston Seed and they said that all varieties of Buffalo Grass are basically the same. Their seed is $13.50 per pound in 3 or 25 pound bags with 1 to 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet recommended.

The growth rate requires patience. Here's the Johnson Seed growth rate pictures
                      18 Days after Germination                                                     28 Days after Germination
                    34 Days after Germination                                                  65 Days after Germination

Why start with plugs? Because advisers who are wiser say that the seed is tricky and we have enough tricky projects right now. So the search for plugs began with a websearch. Conveniently, I found an OSU turf page with the names and contact information for several turf resources.

The local turf companies I called said we couldn't handle the rolls of sod by ourselves and that Buffalo Grass plugs are not available. But, of course, everything is available.

I found plugs at two well-known online suppliers. One, High Country Gardens, sells a tray of 70 plugs for $66 with shipping and the other sells a tray of 72 plugs for $86 with shipping. High Country got the order.

Should I also buy seed and try my luck with starting my own plugs? Do I have time? energy? Seed is $50 for 3 pounds, plus shipping or a 3-hour drive to Enid.

15 March 2015

Bleeding Heart Vine is Clerodendrum thomsoniae or Glory Bower

Glory Bower Vine
The first time we saw this gorgeous plant was in Memphis at a little garden across the road from the Memphis Botanic Garden. Dixon Gallery and Gardens are a must-go destination for us each time we go to Memphis.

Bleeding Heart Vine or Glory Bower, Clerodendrum thomsoniae, is a tropical plant from Africa that only survives in zones 10 and above but is frequently grown indoors and in tropical houses other places.

At the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, they have a record of all their Clerodendrum thomsoniae vines, living and dead at the plant record here.

Here's what MOBOT says about growing bleeding heart vine in their climate -
Heavy feeder, needs hanging planter, trellis or other support for its 12-15 feet long vine.
Part-shade, evergreen, needs a winter rest at 55-65 degrees with minimal water
Prune in early spring, needs several gallons of water every week during growing and flowering periods.

Plant of the Week suggests using a sandy soil in a large tub to make your vine happiest.

Click over to Top Tropicals and Logee's to see their selections. Plant lust at work here.

12 March 2015

Events for Gardeners

Gardens and spring combine make unbeatable attractions for plant lovers and travelers.

As your spring and summer travel plans come up, consult this list and other internet resources and add one or more gardens, zoos and festivals to your itinerary.

Most events are more than walks through beautiful gardens – though that alone would be worth the stop for many of us. Regional, school, city and community events include plant sales, fun-runs, car shows, food vendors, family activities, parades and concerts.

Clip and save the list so you can call ahead or click through to the websites to find out more. Have an event we should know about? Email mollyday1@gmail.com

Feb 28-Apr12 
Dallas TX
Dallas Blooms

Dallas Arboretum
www.dallasarboretum.org 214.515.6615

March 13-14
Semmes AL

Annual Mary G. Montgomery High School Azalea Festival

Mar 16 – 20
Muskogee OK
Jr. Master Gardener Day at Papilion, Honor Heights Park

www.cityofmuskogee.com 918-684-6303

Mar 28 from 10 am to 2 pm
Daffodil Day Muskogee 2015
Three Rivers Museum, Thomas-Foreman Historic Home, art show, plant sale, trolley ride & refreshments
http://www.3riversmuseum.com  918-686-6624

Mar – Apr
Lafayette LA

Azalea Trail Drive 20-mile self-tour
www.lafayettetravel.com 800-346-1958

March 14-15
Valdosta GA
Valdosta-Lowndes Azalea Festival

http://azaleafestival.com 229-269-9381

March 16-27
McComb MS

Pike County Azalea Festival
http://pikeinfo.com 601-684-2291

April 18
Tulsa OK
Tulsa Zoo’s Party for the Planet

www.tulsazoo.org 918-669-6600

March 20 – April 5
Tyler TX

Azalea Trail
www.tylertexasonline.com 409-283-2632

March 21
Jasper TX
Azalea Festival in Courthouse Square

http://jaspercoc.org 409-384-2762

Mar 23 – Apr 20
Memphis TN
TulipMania – Dixon Gallery and Gardens

www.dixon.org 901-761-5250

March 27-29
Summerville SC
Flowertown YMCA Azalea Festival

www.flowertownfestival.org 843-871-9622

March 26-29
Nacogdoches TX

National Convention Azalea Society of America
http://azaleas.org 936-560-3322
Speakers, plant sales, garden tours,

March 1-31
Nacogdoches TX
Azalea Trail

www.visitnacogdoches.com 936-564-7351

April – all month
Muskogee OK           

Honor Heights Park Azalea Festival
www.visitmuskogee.com 866-381-6543

April 4-5
St Louis MO
Greater St. Louis Daffodil Society Show

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org 314-577-5100

April 8 to 12
Wilmington NC

North Carolina Azalea Festival
ww.ncazaleafestival.org   910-794-4650

Apr 10 – 12
Atlanta GA
Dogwood Festival

www.dogwood.org 404-817-6642

April 10 & 11
Tulsa OK
Springfest Garden Market and Festival
www.tulsagardencenter.com 918-746-5125

April 10-12
Wilmington NC

Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Tour
www.capefeargardenclub.org 910-742-0905

April 11
Muskogee OK

Azalea Parade and Chili-BBQ Cook-Off
http://www.exchangeclubmuskogee.org  918-869-0733

Apr 11
Springfield MO
Cherry Blossom Kite Festival
Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park Botanical Center 
www.parkboard.org  417-891-1515

April 12 at 2 pm
Tulsa OK

Tulsa Rose Society
Companion Plants for Roses

http://www.tulsarosesociety.org 918-227-1954

April 16-19
Charleston MO
Dogwood-Azalea Festival

www.charlestonmo.org 573-683-6509

April 17-18
Pickens SC

Azalea Festival
www.pickensazaleafestival.org 864-878-3258

Apr 18 Sand Springs OK  Herbal Affair
http://sandspringsok.org 918-246-2500

April 21 Atlanta GA
Garden Envy - Auction of Rare Plants & Garden Treasures
http://atlantabg.org 404-591-1582 

April 21 – 26 Oklahoma City
Festival of the Arts at Myriad Botanical Gardens

Apr 25-27
Nixa MO
Azalea Festival

www.nixachamber.com 417-725-3223

May 1–3
Bethesda MD
Landon School Azalea Garden Festival
www.landon.net 301-320-3200

May 9
Muskogee OK
Papilion Opening Day at Honor Heights Park

Children’s activities, refreshments
www.cityofmuskogee.com 918-684-6303

May 9
Tulsa OK
National Public Gardens Day-Trolley Tour Woodward Park
www.tulsagardencenter.com 918-746-5125

May 15
Stillwater OK
Concert in OSU Botanic Garden
http://botanicgarden.okstate.edu 405-744-5414

May 15-16
Tucson AZ
Weird Plant Sale: Oddball Plants and Weird Pottery

www.tucsonbotanical.org 520-326-9686
May 19-23
Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show
www.rhs.org.uk www.theticketfactory.com

May 22 - 25
Brookings Harbor OR

76th Annual Azalea Festival
www.brookingsharborchamber.com 541-469-3181

May 31
Wichita KS
Butterfly Festival and River Fest

http://botanica.org 316-264-0448

June 6
Muskogee OK
Symphony in Honor Heights Park

www.cityofmuskogee.com 918-684-6302

June 20-21
Roan Mountain TN

Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival
www.roanmountain.com  423-772-3154

09 March 2015

Weed Identification and Natural Enemies from University of CA

Weeds are similar though not identical  across the US . Most years I pull up seedlings of plants I seeded in the fall, mistaking them for some new weed I've never seen before. And, plants listed as invasive in USDA zones 10 - 12 barely survive as garden specimens in our zone 7 beds.

The U.C. Davis IPM/agriculture site has a page that will help sort our weeds from seedlings - at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/weeds_intro.html

Here's what the front top looks like, followed by similar information for grasses, sedges and aquatic.
Click over to learn more!

Weed photo gallery

Link to broadleaf gallery
Choose a category below or skip to a LIST OF ALL WEEDS.

Broadleaf identification

Leaves are wide, veins branch out in different directions.

Natural Enemies Gallery Also! at the UC site there are photos and information about garden pests' natural enemies at

Click through and look at the pictures, learn who is who!

Your link choices at the site are
Predators | Parasites | List by order and family name | List by scientific name | List by pest