Showing posts from August, 2015

Basil Season in the Garden

This is the year for basil in our garden. Each year it's something else. The eggplant year, the cucumber variety year - well, it's enough to say that every year we have a big mess of something to deal with. We donate any vegetables that become too abundant for us to use.

Back to Basil - I planted 3 seed varieties with the goal of having enough to make plenty of pesto plus a winter's worth to dry in the dehydrator.

We have enough to do it all.
Here's the post about the Basil varieties I planted this year.

There are four rows of plants in three locations around the place. So far, we've made one batch of pesto and filled the dehydrator once.

Then, I watered and lightly fertilized the bottom halves of the plants with seaweed/fish fertilizer and continued to water the plants regularly. Now, as you can see, it's time to harvest again.

This winter we will have enough of our own fla…

How much insect stings and bites hurt - scientific measurements

Justin Schmidt rated them for you so you'll know how much sympathy you can beg for -

1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.x Honey bee and European hornet. 
3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of Hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into you…

Urgent Need for Native Plants - Doug Tallamy

Doug Tallamy packs auditoriums everywhere he speaks and last week he had a crowd of 250 with standing room only at the Tulsa Garden Center.
Tallamy is America’s hero of the movement to save humans by restoring the natural food web, one back yard garden, public space and corporate green space at a time.
Dozens of research studies have pointed to the emotional and physical health benefits of plant corridors over mowed spaces but Tallamy’s knowledge and passion push participants to feel an urgency to make a commitment, no matter how small. 

Whether you have some control over a public area or a residential neighborhood space, Tallamy suggests that you select plants that support and improve life.
The building blocks of habitat are bunching grasses instead of lawn grasses that need to be mowed, shrubbery that wildlife can use rather than useless ones, and beneficial canopy and understory trees. 
Every patio, front yard, park, fence line and community can begin to create food web friendly habita…

Tulsa Daylily Society Auction Sept 3

DAYLILY AUCTION Thursday September 3 Tulsa Garden Center 7:pm Tulsa Area Daylily Society will be offering recent hybrid daylilys for auction This is a great opportunity to purchase a beautiful perennial at a reduced price
Open to the public. Must be present to bid.
No other information is available at this time. Contact Susan Snodgrass at   esusans1 at

Landscape with Native Plants - Lissa Morrison - free talk Sept 19th

Lissa Morrison, who works at Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, will be the September 19 speaker for the meeting of the Flower Garden and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas.

Location is the Northwest AR Technical Institute, 709 S. Old Missouri Rd, Springdale. The meeting begins at 10 am.

"Taming the Wild – Ozark Natives in the Home Landscape"

The speaker, Lissa Morrison, has had an interest in native plants since 2008 when she and her husband, Merle, opened White River Nursery in south Fayetteville.  Her mission is to increase knowledge & understanding of how to use native plants in our own backyards.  

“By encouraging the use of some of the well behaved natives, we can hopefully return to a more balanced ecosystem.” 

Morrison genuinely believes that by changing one yard at a time, we as gardeners, can make a difference.

Old House Garden Heirloom Bulbs

The only catalog I place an order from the day it arrives is Old House Gardens.

I have success with their bulbs at least 75% of the time and that's a terrific record for our crazy back yard where critters dig up bulbs as fast as we plant them some years.

Here are the fall-planted bulbs I selected -

Drought tolerant and flexibile about soil typeRhodophiala bifida or Oxblood Lily (Called Hill Country Red by Plant Delights) Cold hardiness zones 7a through 11
Sun to part shade
Red flowers late summer to early fall
15 inches tall
A bit pricey at 3 bulbs for $22.50 but they have a reputation for spreading. Easy to grow

White Trillium grandiflorum Snow Trillium 
for the shade garden
moist humus soil
Height is 12 to 16 inches
Zones 4a to 7b
10 for $28
Here's a fun bit of information about how they form colonies from Easy to Grow - ants, flies and beetles pollinate trillium flowers and the seeds are dispersed over short distances by ants.

Ornithogalum nutans or Silver Bells
Blooms mid-spr…

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillars

These little Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillars are only able to eat and live on Spicebush shrubs so when Marilyn Stewart told us about them we bought a couple of the shrubs.

During the drought years, most butterflies went past our region of the country, heading for more hospitable places. But this year we are having a baby boom all over our little piece of earth.

 When looking for the first little caterpillars you'll see leaves chewed and folded over like the one on the left.

When the egg first hatches the caterpillar (larva) eats the contents of the egg for nutrients, then begins to chew the leaves. Their bodies emit a sticky substance that helps them in their work.
 So here's a tiny caterpillar on the right with my soiled garden hand for size comparison. The leaf was folded over and I opened it so you could see the little guy inside.
 Butterfly poo is called frass. I suppose just to avoid calling it poo. Notice the size of the butterfly caterpillar and its frass.

Also, noti…

Balloon Milkweed is Asclepias physocarpa

The balloon milkweed seeds I planted last winter in the garden shed have yielded large plants that
will feed lots of monarch butterfly caterpillars this fall.

Asclepias physocarpa was so easy to start from seed that we were able to donate a flat of plants to Muskogee's butterfly house, Papilion.

The seeds are available to purchase but ours were given to us by our gardening friend, Jerry Gustafson.

The flowers are unique in that they hang in little clusters from those large-leafed plants, making a dainty show when compared with how rough the leaves are.

Sometimes the plant is called Gomphrocarpus physocarpus. It is native to South Africa so in the US it is perennial only as cold as zone 8 or 9. Definitely an annual here in Zone 7. Kathy Coburn the director of Papilion said that they get volunteer plants in the spring from the previous year's seed fall.

Collect your seed balls in the fall to plant them late winter in a warmed environment. They need no cold stratification of cou…

Mobile Botanical Gardens, Mobile AL

The Mobile AL Botanical Gardens are an ideal destination for winter and spring vacations along the Gulf Coast.

This relatively small public garden has large azalea and rhododendron collections for spring viewing and a significant collection of camellias for an ideal winter visit perfect.

Of the 100-acres that the park holds, 40-acres is set aside as a woodland park with trails winding among flower beds and distinct garden spaces.
As of August 1, the garden closes at noon due to the heat in Mobile.
One of the unique features of the garden is that many of the paths are wheelchair accessible. The walk from the parking lot to the main entrance is easy to navigate.
The first planted area visitors see when entering the property is a demonstration garden from the ReBloom Mobile Project that showcases plants for home gardens that provide bloom year-round. The paths are inlaid with local stone placed around a central lawn area.
The Millie McConnell Azalea and Rhododendron collection holds ove…

Flower Garden and Nature Society newsletter

FGNS is one of the clubs we are members of. I'm putting a link to the August newsletter here for your information.


They have great speakers! The 2 hour commute from our house to the meetings limits our attendance and we haven't really made any friends there (by that I mean we are never recognized) but enjoy our visits when we can go.

Maybe you'll be able to make an upcoming meeting.

Aug gardening in Oklahoma

This has been an unusually mild summer so it actually seems realistic to start fall vegetables this year. During the drought and 117 degrees of the recent past it was absurd to even consider trying. The soil temps would kill anything that wasn't a desert survivor.

With that said, be strong, be brave, pick up some seeds. Here are the guidelines from Oklahoma State University's Fact Sheet.

Did you know you can watch the videos of previous Oklahoma Gardening tv shows? Here's the best link to explore - the index is on the left side of the page.

Also - YouTube has dozens of good videos on seed germination, planting, etc. Try this link and then look on the right for more.
VegetablesAugust is a good month to start your fall vegetable garden.  Bush beans, cucumbers, and summer squash can be replanted for another crop.  Beets, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, and other cool season crops can a…

Free talk Aug 15 - Ozark Plants' History

The Ozark Mountains give northeast Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas, southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri their rolling hills, lush landscapes and native plants. 

This is all ancient terrain. Here a link to a wonderful blog about the plants of the Ozarks

Also, a big treat for those who are interested in native plants -

The Flower, Garden, and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas will meet 
Saturday, August 15, to hear about the history of plants in the Ozarks.  

Speaker is Janice Neighbor, Washington County master gardener.  

Meeting will be held in the Student Center of Northwest Technical Institute at 
709 S. Old Missouri Road in 
Springdale, AR.  

Meeting is free and open to the public.  
Social time begins at 9:30 and meeting at 10

Info:  479-361-2198 or 479-466-7265.

Oso Easy Roses Are Actually Easy!

If a plant makes it in our yard two years, it earns a spot in our hearts and in your garden.

We do not baby our plants because we have full lives and almost 3-acres to take care of. About half of the plants we put into the ground do not survive. So! Plants that thrive deserve a mention.

These two Oso Easy Lemon Zest rose shrubs went in two summers ago during the height of the rose rosette plague. We forget to water them. They have never been treated with insect or fungal spray in those two years. I have never had to clip blight from them. This spring I gave them a drenching with seaweed/fish emulsion.

That's it for their care other than one pruning to clean them up in the spring. These are from the fine growers, Spring Meadow Nursery in Fergus Falls, MN.

We only have the Lemon Zest ones but there are a dozen colors to choose among. Just click over to this Proven Winners Link to see the rest.

We're in zone 7 and they have bloomed for several months already without being deadhe…