29 May 2015

Garden Tour June 13 - NW Arkansas

The Flower Garden Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas is holding its annual tour on June 13.
Here's their Facebook page for more details about the club - https://www.facebook.com/FGNSofNWA

Open 9 am to 4 pm, Fee $12 advance, $15 day of the tour (can be bought at any of the gardens
the day of the event) or in advance at any of the Westwood Gardens locations.

Willow Park
16582 Willow Dr
 Rogers, AR

Together We
4702 Rocky Ridge Trail
Rogers, AR

1244 Stratton Road
Rogers, AR

Unexpected Garden
905 N 34th St.
Rogers, AR

Oden Oasis
2383 Cardinal Dr.
Springdale, AR

Birdhouse Gardens
2301 Woodland Ave.
Springdale, AR

Friendship Garden
101 Shoreline
Springdale, AR

Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks
4703 N Crossover
Fayetteville, AR

27 May 2015

10 Inches of Rain this Month

tree dying from too much rain
The drought is officially over in Oklahoma, Texas and surrounding states that have suffered for the past few years with heat and dry soil. All of us lost plants, trees and hope for a while but this month's problem is different: So much rain that the ground and plants can't handle it.

We are losing a couple of young fruit trees because their roots cannot get enough oxygen - the water cannot flow away fast enough.

Also with the rain, we are having cool temperatures so the kale, peas, parsley, fennel and green beans are enjoying themselves. The tomatoes, basil, sunflowers and other heat loving plants, not so much.

Clematis - no sun
The Clematis vines are not getting enough sun to produce a full set of blossoms. This is about one-fourth their usual early summer show.
Arun flower bud

Many of the perennial seedlings I put out over the month have  just sat there; others have died. No sun, cool temperatures, sopping wet soil all have combined to slow them down to a crawl.

In the shade garden, the Arum flower is full-size but the ground has been so wet for such a long time that it fell over and had to be staked - first time in 5 years.

Another issue you may be having also, is that without sun, pollinators are not out in the abundance we are accustomed to. They need warm, sunny days to
Grapes on the vine
come out and do the jobs we rely on them for. The grape vines are making fruit but look how skimpy the clusters are without pollinators.
On sunny days, you can hear the bees buzzing around the vines. One thse 50 to 65 degree, cloudy and rainy days not much is happening.

One thing gardeners know is that we take the good with the bad each year. So, this year we'll take the bumper crops of lettuce and cool season crops and celebrate what we have.

24 May 2015

How to Plant Shrubs

This cool graphic was sent out to subscribers to the Encore Azalea newsletters and would be a great one to print and keep around as a reference because these instructions are accurate for shrubs and trees of almost any type.

21 May 2015

What to Plant Under Trees

One of the most commonly asked questions about gardening is what to do about the areas under trees. 

It seems like those shady, dry places around trees bother gardeners who would like to have their gardens pretty to look at from every angle. 

Not only is the soil dry under trees since trees quickly drink surface water, the roots are dense and do not allow room for digging. On top of all that, digging around tree roots can damage the health of the tree in the long term.

Sometimes we see flower beds planted around trees and that solution can work quite well as long as it is a bed full of perennials and the plants are in the ground rather than in a raised bed. Raised beds planted on top of tree roots can smother the tree’s roots, stunting the growth and shortening the life of the tree.

The first rule for healthy plants under trees is to completely avoid annual plants such as begonias and petunias that absorb water and nutrients needed by the tree. Each spring or fall when annuals are planted your trees’ roots are being torn and cut. Also, annual plants have shallow roots and require more frequent irrigation than is healthy for the top roots of trees.

The ideal solution is to plant long-living groundcovers and other perennials around the drip line of young trees at planting time. Over the years, the young tree’s roots will fill in around the ornamental plants’ roots and they will find a healthy growing situation together.

And, planting under trees it is best to purchase small perennials rather than gallon- sized containers.  

The smaller root ball in a 4-inch plant will require a smaller hole and do less damage to the tree roots. Yes, it will take an extra year to fill in the space but a light mulch cover will keep the area looking good, help the soil retain moisture, and give both plants a better chance.

There are dozens of perennial plants that thrive under trees. Look for native perennials that want dappled, part-shade or full-shade. Native perennial selections are better adapted to your local soil types, rainfall, heat and humidity patterns.

As a rule of thumb, avoid plants that are Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Asian in origin. Most of these plants spread fast in our soil and weather, quickly becoming a problem that has to be managed under trees. 

Examples of popular plants in this potential-problem category include: Bamboo, Chinese Wisteria, Japanese Callicarpa (beautyberry), Japanese privet, Asian jasmine, Japanese honeysuckle, etc. English ivy also quickly becomes a problem plant, choking tree roots and trunks.

Fall planted, spring flowering bulbs are compatible with tree roots. Select the tiny daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and snowdrops that do not need to planted deep and prefer the summer dry soil.

Rhododendrons and their cousins Azaleas also enjoy dappled light but their roots need to be kept moist, so their root balls should be planted farther out by the tree’s drip line which is located at the end of the trees’ branches. Hostas and cold-hardy begonias are other great selections for that area.

Native, perennial, woodland, wildflowers thrive under trees and live compatibly close to the trunks. 

Those possibilities include: Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria candensis), Wild Ginger/Snakeroot (Asarum canadense), Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), white trout lily (Erythronium albidium), May apple (Podophyllum peltatum) and sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba), Phlox divaricata (native or wild blue phlox), American Alum Root (Heuchera Americana) Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans), Allegheny Spurge (Pachysandra procumbens), etc.

Sources: Area Farmers’ Markets, plant shows, Grogg’s Green Barn in Tulsa (groggsgreenbarn.com)

Mail-order: Prairie Nursery www.prairienursery.com, Pine Ridge Gardens www.pineridgegardens.com, Missouri Wildflowers www.mowildflowers.net

18 May 2015

Ruth Stout the original Naked Gardener

Ruth Stout
Here's that video interview with Ruth Stout in which she admits to gardening naked because she just loved the feeling of air on her body. You'll recall that Stout invented no-dig gardening a long time ago. Her potato planting method is legendary!


potato planting method

Her most famous book was Gardening Without Work, "The No-Work Garden Book" in which she tells everything you need to know. Her other titles are

"How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back: A New Method of Mulch Gardening", "Company Coming: Six Decades of Hospitality", and "Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy & the Indolent".

If you haven't read Stout yet you won't know that her methods have now passed scientific tests and today are being recommended worldwide - about 100 years after she discover them.

15 May 2015

Plant Sale May 20-22 Muskogee Conservation District

Muskogee County Conservation District 
MAY 20-22, 2015
(corner Shawnee Bypass and Hwy 69)



GRAPES (we bought some plants today!)




Tulsa Audubon Plant Sale & Habitat Tour May 30-31

Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour & Plant Sale

Sat. May 30 9-5 and Sun. May 31 Noon-5
Rain or Shine. 
Begin the tour at any garden   
Admission donation $6 Children under 13 Free

Garden Address                                        
Home - 614 N. Fir St. Jenks
      Vendor Grogg's Green Barn

Jenks Public School - Flycatcher Trail
Garden 404 E. F St. Jenks

       Vendors Bird Houses by Mark
       Jenks FFA Plant Sale
       Tulsa Audubon Society

Home 8736 S. Evanston Ave. Tulsa
     Vendors  Pine Ridge Gardens
      WING-IT Wildlife in Need Group in Tulsa

Garden 7515 S. Braden Ave. Tulsa
      Vendor Wild Things Nursery

6733 S. Birmingham Ave. Tulsa   
      Utopia Gardens
      Duck Creek Farm

Garden 4115 E. 45th St. Tulsa 
     Vendors  Missouri Wildflowers Nursery
      Oxley Nature Center

Find a Garden Tour Map & Info at www.tulsaaudubon.org or call 918 521-8894.

Volunteer during the tour & get a free ticket! 918.289.6281

Enter a drawing to win a free prize by taking your Garden Tour Program to: Grogg's Green Barn, 10105 E. 61st St. Tulsa before June 8, 2015

14 May 2015

Martagon Lilies - Plant in Fall for Spring Flowers

Martagon Lily in our garden
on this rainy morning.
Last fall when the lily bulbs were carefully placed into established beds, we could only hope that they would grow into the beautiful specimens they are this spring.

The Martagon Lily, Lilium martagon, from Old House Gardens is even prettier than it was in their photo! It is loaded with flowers and seems to like its location under a deciduous red maple tree. 

Even as far north as Minnessota, the North Star Lily Society comments that they are the darlings of the shade garden.

While I love my bulb source, another one that is highly recommended is B & D Lilies though I haven't ordered from them yet. If you have, let us know what you think.

These lilies need a cold winter so they are recommended for zones 3 through 8 with protection but no hotter. That's why I put ours in part shade.

These are a Turk's Cap variety with dozens of little flowers that dance in the wind. Other colors include white, dark red, yellow with red spots, gold, and a few more shades of pink. There are 150 martagon lilies all told.

Martagon is a Turkish word that means cap or turban, referring to the shape of the flowers. The other, similar names include Lily of Istanbul, Sultan Lily and Dragon Lily.

Portugal, Europe, Asia and Mongolia make up the native range of Lilium martagon so think rocky, good drainage and cool winters when selecting the right location.

Another planting thought that those locations bring to mind is soil high in minerals. Avoid clay soil spots in your yard that retain water. Funkie Gardens recommends planting them in woodland settings where they will receive dappled light among hostas.

Bulbs are planted 4-inches deep in the fall and mulched well. Betty Earl reminds us that they resent being disturbed or moved so put them in a place where they can live for 100 years!

13 May 2015


This is the time of year and the ideal weather for our garden to be loaded with turtles. They travel across our property eating wild strawberries and other delectable treats that we grow for them, visit the pond, mate, have their babies and hang out.
Three-toed box turtles

Oklahoma has 17 turtle species that are found in various places. Two species are land living box turtles and 15 of them are aquatic ones.

In our yard we mostly see the three-toed box, ornate box and painted turtles. They will eat anything small enough for them to get ahold of, including berries, flowers, mushrooms, fruit, beetles, slugs earthworms, larvae, grubs, etc.

The Chelydridae family is two species of large, carnivorous turtles including the snapping and the alligator snapping turtles. Do not try to pick these up - they will bite you.

Other water turtles include yellow mud, Mississippi mud, razor-back musk, and common musk/stinkpot.

The Emydidae group includes map, box, basking turtles that are found in streams and rivers in eastern Oklahoma. The map turtles include common, Ouachita and Mississippi.

The box turtles include three-toed and ornate.

Acquatic turtles can also be called basking turtles because they like to sit on logs and rocks. These include eastern river cooler, red-eared slider, western chicken and painted.

The Trionychidae or shoftshell turtles include smooth softshell and spiny softshell.

If you want to identify turtles you are seeing in parks or at home, go to this link at Discover Life. And, if you are considering catching them for pets or the dinner table be sure to check into the hunting license dates and requirements.

10 May 2015

Make an Edible Hanging Basket

This lovely idea is fresh from the site of Portland Nursery and what a nice idea it is. There are so many edibles that are beautiful to look at.

I always use sterile potting soil in hanging baskets and put in a few tablespoons full of water-retention beads. Be careful with those beads though. I've put in too many and the plants floated away. Soak them first and follow the directions for how much to use with which size container.

Also, hanging baskets will have to be watered every couple of days when there is no rain falling. A mulch on the top will help the top stay moist.

Basil is a great centerpiece for a hanging basket since it grows fairly tall. There are plenty of purple and red-tinged basils that would be pretty. A little garlic or green onions would be pretty there, too.

And, what about a basket completely filled with assorted basil? Wow would that smell good and love sun all summer? Varieties abound.

For fillers around the outside, parsley (flat or curly) would work. Calendula (pot marigold) has such nice flowers. Here in our area they don't thrive in the heat of the summer so if you live where summers are hot, go with the parsley or cilantro.

Spillers that trail down the sides of the container could be creeping thyme, or if your summers are on the cool side, nasturtiums.Strawberries would also make a fun addition.

Your choices of plants will completely depend upon what thrives in your area but no matter where you live there will be lots to choose from.

Remember to check out your local farmers' markets for locally grown plants that will do well.

07 May 2015

Grow a New Veggie This Year!

Salsify flower
Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, spinach and onions are some of the most popular vegetables to grow in zone 7. Many gardeners grow okra, radishes, corn and beans, too. But there are several interesting and unique vegetable possibilities that are tasty additions to the summertime table. 

Besides lettuce and cabbage we can grow chard, kale, amaranth, corn salad, broccoli raab (broccolini), mizuna, pak choi, radicchio, rocket, ramps, sorrel, bloody dock, cutting celery and French dandelions.

Mache and rocket can be relied on for winter salads if this spring’s harvest is allowed to go to seed and re-plant itself in the vegetable beds. Kale also survives winters here and will usually provide salad greens until February.

At one time root vegetables were popular among gardeners. In addition to beets and turnips, kohlrabi, parsnips and rutabagas were commonly planted. Carrots come in a wide array of colors now, from orange to purple, and add a festive touch to salads and picnics. Also short carrot varieties can be planted in shallow beds.

The vining vegetables that are popular include cucumbers and beans. In the spring, snow peas (edible pod type peas) thrive during cool weather and shelling peas can be planted after them. A vertical garden takes up a lot less space in small gardens, patios and balconies.

Green beans and their cousins, wax beans, can easily be grown in “bush” form or vines. Romano beans are a delicious alternative that will grow up a trellis. Small Wonder is a spaghetti squash hybrid that grows on a trellis and produces spaghetti squash just the right size for two meals.

Edamame (edible soy bean pods) are fun to grow and eat. They do best when planted where peas grew before or with a dusting bean inoculant before planting.

Winter squash and pumpkins takes a lot of garden space and require a willingness to cope with squash bugs so fewer gardeners attempt them as much anymore. If you want to grow tomatoes on a trellis look for indeterminate varieties.

Climbing beans will grow new plants the following summer if a few pods are left in the garden over the winter. Just move the seedlings the next spring if they are in the wrong place. Malabar spinach is a climbing, heat-tolerant green for salads and cooking.

Eggplant thrives in our area. The long, slender Asian varieties are easier to cook than the large egg-shaped traditional variety. Peppers, too, have expanded into so many varieties that there are entire catalogs of color choices, sizes and heat.

Among the perennial vegetables that are still grown, you will find asparagus and sometimes rhubarb. Other perennial vegetables that are easy to grow here include Jerusalem artichokes (the latest darling among gluten-free eaters), walking onions, fiddlehead ferns, and Cardoons (artichokes).

Leeks, garlic and shallots, can return year after year if a few plants are allowed to remain in the ground. In the case of leeks just allow a seed head or two to stay in the garden and those seeds will give you leeks the following year without much effort.

Salsify is a root vegetable that is growing in popularity. The seeds are planted in the spring and the plants grow throughout the fall. After the first frost the roots are pulled up and either prepared then or saved in the refrigerator for winter eating.

When cooking salsify in the fall, wash the light, bottom part of the leaves and sauté them with the peeled and sliced roots. The roots can also be peeled and steamed without leaves. The flavor is similar to artichoke hearts.

Add a new vegetable to your garden and table this year. You may discover a new favorite.

05 May 2015

Globe Basil is Ocimum basilicum

Globe Basil seedlings
Globe Basils are taking the place of traditional basil plants in our garden this year. We have a dozen Genovese type plants in the ground but the globe varieties will take center stage.

The small globe basil varieties are just as easy to grow, pack a wallop of flavor and require considerably less effort to clean for large scale processing such as pesto making and drying. Why? because the leaves and stems can all go into the dryer, oven and food processor.

The basils with woody stems require that each leaf be removed either before cleaning the entire stem or in a colander. With the little globe basil varieties, I cut off the top of the plant, rinse in the colander, dry it and use it.

globe basil seedlings
That difference will seem insignificant to most cooks, but I make several batches of basil pesto every year to can and freeze for gifts and use over the winter.

Because of their size, they are wonderful container plants and as a mini-front-of-the-border hedge for a sunny spot.

Ramona Werst, author of the garden blog, "Ramona's Basil Garden" writes about all things basil. There are several basil varieties available for sale at her site.

Poppy Joe's globe basil
Werst said she plants her globe under trees and I've also found that they do quite well in less than the full sun needed by the large basil varieties.

Phagat's site points out that globe or small leafed basil has many names: Globe Greek, Spicy Globe, and Sweet Bush." This year I started seeds left over from last year and added one new variety.

Seed Savers points out that the plants grow 12-18 inches tall. Plant seeds 1/8th inch deep (press into soil or sprinkle with vermiculite). Germination can take up to a month and the seeds will just sit there if temperatures are below 65- degrees.

Thin the seedlings or transplant them 4 to 6 inches apart for a delicious, little hedge. More seed sources at this link.

Poppy Joe's is new to me this year.  Joe matures at 12 to 14 inches,  It's claim to fame is disease resistance so I did a little research and found that to be inaccurate. The University of MN conducted studies and found that even Poppy Joe is susceptible to downy mildew. BUT they added, "Varieties with no to low disease are not necessarily good substitutes for susceptible sweet basil varieties. They often have different leaf color and flavor, dramatically affecting the final product."

Symptoms that tell you to apply fungicide, "Infected leaves first turn yellow in areas restricted by major veins, with time the entire leaf turns yellow."

Prevention of mildew is the usual: "Increase row width and distance between plants to provide good air movement between plants to allow leaves to dry quickly after rain, dew or irrigation. Use drip irrigation if possible. If sprinkler irrigation is the only option, water deeply and infrequently early on a sunny day so leaves dry quickly in the sun. In greenhouse production, adjust ventilation to reduce humidity."

Some cooks complain that globe basil is not as smooth coming out of the food processor as Genovese. This Boston Globe link has a fascinating recipe for a pesto with globe basil, parsley, cilantro, and perilla, all of which we have in abundance in our garden this year.

The site Medicinal Herb Information says that it's also good for us: "Antispasmodic, antidepressant, antiseptic, stimulant, tonic, febrifuge, diaphoretic, nervine, antibacterial, expectorant, appetizer, carminative, galactagogue, stomachic". And, don't forget it is known for its ability to enhance romance.

How do you like to use your basil? Any recipes and ideas to share?

03 May 2015

Our Zone 7 garden in Early May

Here's a photo essay of our garden this week -
Where you'll find us around 5:00 every day
9 fruit trees and the
back of the garden shed

Mock Orange in bloom

Lorapetalum with iris


01 May 2015

Strawberry Begonias Blooming Late April zone 7

Saxifraga stolonifera
Strawberry Begonia flowers
As shade perennials go, Strawberry Begonias are hard to beat in our area. Just plant a few and within a couple of years you'll have a lovely, easy-care ground cover for under a tree.

The photo is in our back garden under an oak tree where six plants became a ground-cover 3 feet deep and 6 feet wide in two years.

Saxifraga stolonifera, whose native range includes China, Japan and South Korea, is not a strawberry, nor is it a begonia. Sometimes it's called Strawberry Geranium, too.

It's cold hardy only in zones 6 to 9 and thrives in full to part-shade. And, it is not bothered by insects or disease.

The name Saxifrage comes from saxum (rock) and frangere (break) to illustrate the plant's ability to scramble over rocks. Stolonifera refers to the fact that the plant spreads by stolons, creating plantlets everywhere they trail.

In colder zones than ours, they are grown as houseplants in hanging planters where the plantlets are allowed to hang over the edge of the pot.

Plant Delights Nursery offers them for sale if you'd like to get them growing in containers or under a tree at your home. Their explanation of the name is slightly different, "The name saxifraga comes from the Latin for "stone-breaker" as certain species live on rocks and send their roots down into the fissures, causing them to crack open even more. The genus saxifraga is a close cousin to other ornamental perennials including mukdenia, boykinia, bergenia, and astilboides. The Japanese eat the leaves of Saxifraga stolonifera, fresh or cooked."

Now you're hungry to have some, aren't you? If you are in Muskogee, I'll share some plantlets with you.