Showing posts from June, 2015

Hydrangea Happiness from Proven Winners

Proven Winners is introducing their new
InvincibelleSpirit IISmooth Hydrangeaarborescens and I would love to have that hedge in the photo, wouldn't you?
PW calls this one an overachiever because it blooms and re-blooms - just what we need our Hydrangeas to do!
I confess to a deep love affair with Annabelle the original Hydrangea discovered in 1910 in Anna Illinois. Her huge white snowball blossom clusters are durable for drying and the plant itself is trouble tree.
Invincibelle Spirit is a hybrid of  native Annabelle, durable and reliable but with pink flowers. It's cold hardy to zone 3 and happy up to zone 9. It is said to enjoy full sun but I think in our zone 7 heat, a bit of afternoon shade would no doubt work well, too.
The pink flowers start out dark buds that open to hot pink clusters, fading to soft pink as the flowers age. Then, wonder of beauties, they become green.
No deadheading, heat tolerant, care-free, Invincible Spirit matures between 3 and 4 feet tall and wide. If …

Butterfly Nursery Plants

Not everyone can stomach watching caterpillars eat their garden plants. For many of us it is one of the thrills of summertime garden walks. Nectar plants provide food for adult butterflies and we have plenty of those. Host plants are where the butterflies raise their babies. The eggs must hatch on plants that the caterpillars can eat and adults only lay eggs on those plants.

Here are some of the plants we grow just so they can be eaten by caterpillars - can you identify the butterflies that use them for host plants?

Rooftop Food Farming in St. Louis MO

Urban Harvest in St. Louis MO is building a demonstration garden for city dwellers who want to grow some of their own food. And, it's a food roof farm. 

The idea is to connect citizens of the city with organic food at their fingertips. Rally Saint Louis is funding the initial project along with crowdsourcing.

The first project will be on the 10,000 square-foot roof of a two story building at 14th and Convention Plaza a block from the City Museum. There will also be event and education spaces on the roof.

Another community gardening group in St. Louis grows their food on the deck of an underused parking garage.

What do you think? Could this work in your town?

Increase access to healthy foodEngage u…

Coconut Lime Echinacea purpurea Coneflower

This time of year white flowers are the bright lights of the garden. We love the reds, yellows and purples but the white ones add the cheerful contrast we need.

Coneflowers come in a wide array of colors now. And, while I love my purple coneflowers and the yellow ones, too, these Coconut Lime Echinacea steal my heart every year when they come back. I think this is our plants' fourth year popping up and flowering. It is reliable to say the least.

They are supposed to want full sun but in our area some protection from the afternoon sun is gratefully accepted by most plants.

Also the usual instructions suggest dry soil but we live on a rock shelf so we usually have to water our flower beds. This year we have not since the record rainfall is keeping things going quite well so far.

Like other Echinaceas, these are deer resistant. They are now part of the Southern Living Plant Collection so look for them there if you decide to find them for your garden.

Eudora Welty Garden Restored and worth a visit

The Welty garden in Jackson MS has been restored to its original design and is open to the public.  We stopped there to walk through the famous garden rooms and down the Woodland Garden path to the rebuilt summer retreat.

The Tudor Revival house built in 1925 became the home of 16-year-old Eudora, her parents, Christian and Chestina, and her two brothers, Edward and Walter.  Eudora lived in the home off and on throughout her lifetime, gardening with her mother while she was alive, taking over the management of the three-fourths-acre and then being unable to maintain it.
The Eudora Wely Foundation ( operates the house though it is owned by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
The gardens at the house, “my mother’s garden,” were designed and created in 1925 by Chestina. 
Susan Halsom, author of “One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Homeplace”, restored the landscape. Halsom guides a group 15 gardening volunteers “The Cereus Weeders”, who arrive every Wed.…

Plums and fruit woes

Between the rains and before hurricane Bill arrives tonight we went out to pick up the plums. Two-thirds of them went into the compost this year. It has been so wet that the fruit is molding ON the tree.

So far we've canned 8 pints and put a few quarts of pieces into the freezer. So many of them are damaged - rotted from the stem before they ripen, etc.

I used a 40% sugar syrup for the canning liquid (5 water to 3 sugar) so they will be a real treat - a dessert substitute this winter.

After making the syrup, I added the fork-pricked plums to the syrup and let them sit for 30-minutes off the burner. Then, reheated them to put into sterilized jars, wipe, cap and water bath for 20 minutes.

I expect hurricane Bill to knock more out of the top of the tree so when the ground can be walked on I'll do another batch with the leftover syrup.

It's too wet to get vegetables but fruit? We have some.

Garlic Scapes - Why to Cut and How to Use

Garlic scapes are the flower stalks and flower buds of hardnect garlic. If they are not trimmed off before they flower two things happen: 1) the plants' energy goes to producing flowers, inhibiting the growth size of the garlic heads underground; and, 2) the pollinators enjoy the pollen of the garlic flowers and tiny garlic plants come up everywhere in your flower beds the next year.
How do I know? because more than half of the scapes in the red colander are from flower beds.
They must be picked young if you want to use them. They dry up and become tough/stringy and horrible to use in pesto.
Here's what I did with ours. I used scissors to cut them into pieces that would easily fit into the food processor and turned it on. Then, I added enough olive oil to make a slurry. After that came lemon juice, salt and 2 cups of walnuts.
The result was a creamy spread or aoili. Yesterday we took some to Marcia Owen's house where she served an authentic Lebanese lunch feast. The garli…

White Cemetery Iris

Fellow traveler on the gardening path, Russell Studebaker, shared some of his White Cemetery Iris corms with us this week. He said they have to be thinned periodically and we were lucky enough to have visited when they were still available.

TX A & M Extension has a couple of entries about these heirloom bulbs. ..."first used in North Africa as a decoration on gravesites, from there to Spain, and finally to the New World. It's a species cross that is unable to make seeds on its own, but spreads by being passed from hand to hand. You will often see it blooming where once a house stood, and it's able to survive unaided in pastures along the roadside, often half-buried in tall grasses and other wild flowers. The flash of blue-tinged white blooms give the plant's location away in the spring."

"Iris should be planted with the tops of the rhizomes almost out on the surface of the ground. They do not need coddling with extra water and fertilizer once established. …

Asian Plants Identical to Appalachian Plants

Duke University published in the Duke Today newsletter disclosed the results of a study that indicates that half of the plants in the Appalachian US have their closest DNA relatives in eastern Asia. So, does this change the conversation about native plants? Does it make the argument against Asian plants weaker? You have to read this one. Here's the link
Below is the article -  Plant hunters traveling between North America and Asia in the 1800s noticed a bizarre pattern: collections they brought back from China and Japan were strikingly similar in their leaves, flowers and fruits to plants from southern Appalachia. A new analysis of DNA studies shows that over half of all the trees and shrubs in the southern Appalachians can trace their ancestry to relatives a half a world away in Asia. Most of the rest likely arose within North America, the researchers say. “Our southern Appalachian tree species split from their closest relatives in eastern A…

Our Garden June 1

Here's a pictorial of our garden this week - just a few shots so you can see what we're growing in USDA Zone 7 Northeast Oklahoma - feel free to click on images to see a larger view.

 Our preference for tall, dramatic plants is balanced by the need to have flowers on the ground under them.

Plus, you will see in our gardens, a strong preference for flowers that feed pollinators and birds.

 For example, the Elderberry shrubs, Mexican Hat, Moon Carrot, Verbena and Yarrow in these pics.

The only places we use insecticidal soap and fungicide is on the food crops. In particular the broccolini, the grape vines and the fruit trees need to be protected from fungal infections when our wind comes from the TX gulf direction.

The brassica plants - broccoli, kale, etc. get tiny beetle holes in them when they are very tiny and the bugs are too small to hand pick.

Hawthorn Trees for Beauty and Beast

Hawthorn trees, Crataegus, are named for the thorns that occur along their stems. Their other names include thornapple, May-tree, whitethorn and hawberry. The plant family is large so there are native varieties in North America, Europe and Asia. 
In the spring, bees and other pollinators swarm the sweet-smelling flower clusters. In the late fall and early winter, after the leaves fall, the trees are covered with fruit that looks like tiny red berries. Soon after the fruit arrives the songbirds arrive to clean off the entire tree in a day or two.
Not only do Hawthorn trees provide nectar for bees and berries for birds, the leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of a variety of moths and many butterflies such as the brush-footed.
The berries, sometimes called haws or mayhaws, are used to make jelly and wine.  In some Asian cultures the berries are used medicinally.
Historically, Hawthorn species have been used as street trees and as ornamental trees for small gardens. In the 18th Century haw…

Master Gardeners visit

A group of Bartlesville Master Gardeners came to Muskogee today to visit the Papilion at Honor Heights Park and our garden. We love visitors in our garden, especially those who enjoy plants as much as we do.

Trees damaged

The recent storms caused tree damage everywhere in our area.

At our house the clean-up has bee going on for days and there is much more to do. Once we pole saw and drag limbs to the compost and burn piles, we'll hire someone to come in and do the big stuff. It will be weeks before the ground is dry enough for trucks.

How did your yard fare?
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