Showing posts from January, 2016

Clematis You Need

On Saturday, Feb 20th, the Flower Garden Nature Society is hosting Dan Long of Brushwood Nursery. His vine nursery in Athens Georgia features native vines but Clematis, too.

The nursery's website has two sections: 1) for growers and 2) finished retail products. It looks like the grower side is just for a few of their hybrids.

The Gardenvines website for gardeners still says Brushwood. At any rate, there are links to their various collection of Clematis, Passionflower vines, Climbing Roses, Honeysuckle and Jasmine,

Long's talks on the 20th will focus on Clematis and native vines for our gardens.

The 10 am talk is titled "Clematis You Need/You Need Clematis"

His 2 pm talk is titled "Social Climbers: Native Vines that Won't Kill Your Garden Party"

$15 for both talks.

For more information contact Gail Pianalto 479.361.2198 or Joyce Mendenhall 479.7265

Good Berry Bad Berry - which is which?

Between hiking, wild-crafting expeditions, children on camping trips and a simple walk in the woods, it would help us all to know what is edible and what is not.
Children and pets are especially attracted to berries they see in parks, back yards and in the wild. Curiosity and the impulse to try everything at least once, make the distance very short between a brightly colored berry and a mouth.
To a certain extent, we can avoid all berries other than the ones from the market but not all wild berries are bad. When you can identify the good ones, berry hunting, picking and snacking can be fun. Plus, if your child or pet eats a berry outside you will know if it is a problem that needs immediate attention.
The common plants that produce berries include: Yew, Hawthorn, Cotoneaster, several Viburnum varieties including Viburnum trilobum or American Cranberry, Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina), Autumn  Olive or Elaeagnus umbellate, Poison Ivy, Acai, Wild Strawberries (Fragaria virginiana),Dogwood, Junip…

Kansas State U Newsletter for Gardeners

The horticulture newsletter from Kansas State University is available online for your information and entertainment at

The January 19 2016 issue includes:
* a video about flower bed design from Kansas Healthy Yards
* a list of upcoming events (Grow Your Garden Center Business in 2016)
* an article about fruit trees and frost
* Dutch elm disease article
* a how-to article on tree planting
* a native plant feature on Pawpaw trees
* bird feeding
* how to grow your own fire wood
and lots of links to more helpful tips

Click over and learn something new. I couldn't find any way to subscribe so I will have to bookmark it some other way.

Natives in the News

A recent blog post at Ecological Landscape Alliance posted a list of native shrubs to consider for our landscapes. The list includes: Blueberry, Serviceberry, Viburnum, Winterberry, Dogwood, Bayberry, Chokeberry, and more. Click over to the link to read about the plants and their many virtues.
We are gradually adding more native shrubs and fruiting trees to our landscape but we have learned the hard way that native does not mean plant them and ignore them. They must be watered and weeded until they become established in your home landscape.

BenjaminVogt's recent post on Houzz is about 15 native flowers for bees. His list includes Lead Plant, Boltonia or False Aster, Purple Prairie Clover, Black-eyed Susan, Wild Bergamot or Monarda, Golden Alexander, etc. The link above will take you to that fine post.
There's a new Native Plant Podcast that has just begun at It is from VA so will be focused on zone 7-ish gardens. They also have a Facebook pa…

Soil Temperature and Transplant Survival

When starting seeds in the winter to make spring transplants, we count backwards.

The last average annual frost date in zone 7 is April 15th. If I want transplants to put in the ground that weekend I count backwards 6 weeks to the beginning of March to start those seeds.


Not every year is an average year. And, air temperature is not soil temperature.

Consider the fact that tomato and pepper seeds must have bottom heat even if the temperature in your home is 70- degrees F. If the seedling pots are close to an outside window where the temperatures hover around 50 (a compromise between outside temp and inside temps) those seedlings will suffer greatly.

When deciding the plant-out-date for your hard won little plants, check the soil temperature in your area.

For Oklahomans, Mesonet is the go to resource. Here's the Mesonet Soil Temperature link

All states provide this service. Check with your local Extension office to…

Dutchess Dirt from Cornell Univ. Extension

Cornell University Extension publishes a monthly gardening newsletter called Dutchess Dirt. Here's a link to the most recent issue.

In this Jan 2016 newsletter the topics include: Why plants behave the way they do in fall, winter, spring and summer; why some vegetables fail to set fruit;
terrariums with references to click; photos of some plants behaving strangely; and, upcoming events.

I have subscribed for a couple of years and enjoy every issue.

Subscribing is easy. HELP SPREAD THE DIRT! Please forward a copy to anyone you think might be interested. To be added or removed from our e-mail list, or submit upcoming gardening events, contact Nancy Halas at,

Catalog List 2016

January is seed and plant catalog month. Catalogs pour in from companies you shopped last year plus several new companies. It is too cold to do much gardening but the weather is just right for dreaming.
Maybe your garden needs more vegetables, herbs, perennials, or wild flowers that take less fuss and feed wildlife.
Whatever you imagine, online stores and mail order catalogs can help you plan and put it all together.
Seeds of many native plants, perennials, wildflowers, herbs and cold weather vegetables can be started any time through February and be ready to plant out in the garden after the last freeze.
When you know what will be on your list, check out a few vendors, their prices and shipping costs. Many offer free shipping for large orders.
If you are avoiding GMOs, order open pollinated and heirloom varieties. Vegetables in particular, can be easier to grow if you choose the disease resistant varieties.
Almost all the online and catalog stores have monthly email newsletters where the…

Monsanto (aka Seminis) Owns These Seed Companies

Here's the list of Monsanto-owned seed companies for those of you who are trying to avoid GMOs. Seminis sources are listed below the Monsanto listings.

In general, I don't order from most of these companies anyway and suspect that you don't either. I do recognize them as the companies that send lots and lots of catalogs with discount offers.
Audubon Workshop, Breck’s Bulbs, Cook’s Garden, Dege Garden Center, Earl May Seed, E & R Seed Co
Ferry Morse, Flower of the Month Club, Gardens Alive, Germania Seed Co, Garden Trends, HPS
Jungs, Lindenberg Seeds, McClure and Zimmerman Quality Bulb Brokers
Mountain Valley Seed, Nichol’s, Osborne, Park Bulbs, Park’s Countryside Garden
R.H. Shumway, Roots and Rhizomes, Rupp, Seeds for the World, Seymour’s Selected Seeds
Snow, Spring Hill Nurseries, Stokes, T&T Seeds, Tomato Growers Supply, Totally Tomato
Vermont Bean Seed Co., Wayside Gardens, Willhite Seed Co. American Seeds, Asgrow, Campbell, DeKalb, De Ruiter, Diener Seeds, Fielder’s C…

Lowe's and Home Depot Eliminate Bee-Killing Pesticides

Both Home Depot and Lowe's have announced that they are phasing out the pesticides that kill bees.

Friends of the Earth and other groups have campaingned endlessly to get movement on the issue and finally the federal government added its push.

From Garden Design Online, "The announcement followed a long campaign by Friends of the Earth and others to remove plants treated with neonicotonoids, which kill bees.  Lisa Archer, Food and Technology program director at Friends of the Earth US, said Home Depot's action shows that it is listening to consumer concerns.  A study released by the group and others in 2014 showed that 51 percent of garden plants purchased at Lowe's, Home Depot, and Walmart contained the harmful pesticides at levels that could damage or kill bees."

Reuters reports that Lowe's will take until 2019 to accomplish this simple goal. "Last year, BJ's Wholesale Club, a warehouse retailer said it was asking all of its vendors to provide plants …

Allison Barlow of Select Seeds

After thoroughly browsing the 2016 plant and seed catalog from Select Seed, I called one of the owners, Allison Barlow to ask a few questions.

One of the things that I noticed about their catalog is that they mix seeds and plants on each page which is unlike most catalogs with seeds in one section, plants separated out into another section.

"Once we started growing our own plants in our greenhouse, we thought that mixing them in the catalog showcased them better," Allison said.

Select Seeds greenhouse is on their own property. Allison said that they also have a small organic garden for growing their own organic seeds in-house.

If you read the catalog, you may notice, as I did, that their seed packets have unusual seed counts such as 58 Clary Sage seeds, 372 Dreadlocks Amaranth seeds, 113 Phlox Cherry Caramel seeds.

Most catalogs use round numbers - 250, 100, etc.

"We measure our seeds by gram," Allison said. "Rather than listing grams that can be ordered we co…

Anole - Green Natives and Brown Invasives

Green Anoles, once plentiful, are becoming more unusual as they are being pushed out by the invasive species, Brown Anoles. 

The Texas Invasives newsleter says Brown Anoles arrived via Cuba and the Bahamas, "Anole expert Yoel Stuart, a Harvard Ph.D. and post-doctoral researcher at UT-Austin, has studied brown and green anoles and their interactions everywhere from Florida—where they first arrived in the U.S. and are now estimated to be that state’s most abundant land vertebrate—to West Texas, where their population growth is partially stymied by desert-like conditions. Stuart believes that the brown variety has been hitching rides in potting soil all these years, first on ships coming in from Cuba and the Bahamas, and now they are fanning out across the South in the back of eighteen-wheelers, their eggs or hatchlings burrowed deep in sacks of dirt."

As a result of their transportation system, Brown Anoles were primarily spotted at big box garden centers.

"Our green anoles …