25 June 2017

Memphis Botanic Garden


Memphis Botanic Garden is a garden-travel destination we have loved for several years.

It's a six hour drive from here. Far enough to feel like we've gone someplace but still easy to do in a half day. We're especially excited to be going now because the Hydrangea Garden is in full bloom.

In all, MBG is 96-acres with 29 specialty gardens. Open from 9 to 6, you can go early morning and walk through the cool hours of the day. Admission is $8 or $10 for seniors/adults.

The Sensory Garden and Wildflower Trail are great places to see butterflies of all types. The garden for families, My Big Backyard features climbing, games, crafts, educational exhibits, and toys.

This year, we plan to take in Fratelli's Cafe for lunch since its just about the only part of the garden we haven't visited yet.

Memphis Botanic Garden 750 Cherry Road | Memphis, TN 38117  Phone 901-636-4100

In the same neighborhood is Dixon Gallery and Gardens which we always include in our beloved places to walk list. 

The English garden behind the gallery has been maintained to represent Mr. Dixon's original design with walking paths, open spaces, and intimate formal spaces framed with boxwoods.

There are a dozen memorable spots on the property. Here's a link to the week by week what's blooming calendar.

Dixon Gallery and Gardens 4339 Park Avenue Memphis, TN 38117  901- 761-5250







18 June 2017

Bottlebrush Buckeye for Shade Gardens is Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebursh Buckeye
Cold hardy in zones 4 to 8, Bottlebrush Buckeye is a lovely addition to shade and rain gardens.

Paige Nugent at A Girl in Her Garden said, "It holds dark green leaves in the summer and throws up white flower spikes over them in June to July. Unlike other buckeyes, it holds its leaves well into autumn when they turn a brilliant yellow. Late summer it makes buckeyes which begin by looking like bright yellow spiky pears on the plant. The seed is poisonous to humans so don’t try it as a snack." 

Bottlebrush Buckeye is a southern native but can do pretty well in zone 4 or 5 climates with care, especially supplemental water during our drought months.

Our shrub came from a home vendor at the farmer's market in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He dug it out of his back woods so I'm confident in saying it is not a hybrid of the native variety.

It's in its third year with us and this is the first year it has made such a nice flower. The first two years the flowers were insignificant. Butterflies, moths and bees like the flowers; squirrels eat the nuts which are poisonous to us.

Missouri Botanical Garden experts say about this understory shrub -
No serious insect or disease problems.

"Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers rich, moist loams. Intolerant of dry soils, particularly in the early years before its root system becomes well established. Pruning is usually unnecessary. Though native to rich woodland areas in Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, it is winter hardy throughout USDA Zone 5.
Photo - Sagebud.com
Aesculus parviflora. commonly called bottlebrush buckeye, is noted for being one of the best summer-flowering shrubs for shade areas. It is a dense, mounded, suckering, deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub which typically grows 6-12' tall. Features palmate green leaves (5-7 leaflets) and erect, showy, cylindrical panicles (to 12" long) of tubular white flowers with conspicuous red anthers and pinkish filaments. Mid-summer bloom can be spectacular. Flowers give way to glossy inedible, pear-shaped nuts (buckeyes) encased in husks, however these nuts are infrequently produced in cultivation in the northern parts of this shrub's growing range (including St. Louis). Foliage turns yellow in autumn. A very large planting of bottlebrush buckeye can be observed on both sides of the sidewalk leading south from the Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Genus name is the Latin name for a kind of oak bearing edible acorns but applied by Linnaeus to this genus.

Specific epithet means small flowers."


Pine Ridge Gardens in London Arkansas sells 
Yellow Buckeye - Aesculus flava - 75 ft. tree from Illinois
Ohio Buckeye - Aesculus glabra - understory or sun
Texas Buckeye - Aesculus glabra v arguta - TX Buckeye for shade
Bottlebrush Buckeye - Aesculus parviflora - 5-10 ft. tall, forms suckers/root sprouts
Bottlebrush Buckeye hybrid - Aesculus parviflora v serotina 
Red Buckeye - Aesculus pavia - understory OK and Ark native

We bought our Red Buckeye from Marilyn Stewart at Wild Things Nursery in Seminole OK
It doesn't appear on the 2017 plant list however.

As usual with deciduous flowering shrubs, prune after bloom, fertilize late winter with light amount of fertilizer.

Don't confuse these with the Australian Bottlebrush plant. If your seller doesn't provide Aesculus in the identity, you might be getting one of the others. SF Gate wrote about the distinctions.







11 June 2017

The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly by Kylee Baumle

"The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly" by Kylee Baumle has just been released by St. Lynne's Press.

I recommend this wonderful book for classrooms, teachers, scout groups and nature lovers in general.

I've been studying butterflies for at least a decade. Not in an academic sense but from the point of view of a garden writer and gardener. In our yard we call ourselves people who raise butterflies as much as plants. Dozens of plants have been selected and grown here strictly because of their usefulness as butterfly habitat both for nectar and raising caterpillars.

As a result, I have read books and articles as well as taught classes on butterfly lives in an effort to raise awareness of how the plight of butterflies is intricately intertwined with our own fate.

Baumle's book is  a lovely introduction to Monarch Butterflies: Who they are, their life-cycle, the threat to their numbers, how to help and how to connect with others in the community of people who want to make a difference.

There are pages and photos to help readers identify Monarchs and their almost look-alikes such as the Viceroy and Soldier. The chapter on their life-cycle has information that was new to me despite my reading in the past.

Baumle also has photos of the Monarch Caterpillar look-alikes such as the Eastern Black Swallowtail and Queen butterflies.

Monarch on Aster last fall in our garden
The now-famous migration patterns of the Monarch is detailed for you, too. I've noticed that we have at least five times more Monarchs during the fall/winter migration than we have in the spring. I suspect that it's because we don't keep milkweed in a greenhouse for them over the winter but by fall we have plenty of plants for them to make the next generation.

The chapter on milkweed varieties is useful for public gardens and gardeners who would like to make sure they are feeding caterpillars as well as they need to be fed in order to thrive. Instructions on how to grow milkweed from seed, which plants mimic milkweed and which nectar plants are important are in chapter seven.

Chapter eight helps explain why 95% of Monarch caterpillars do not mature: predator insects including: Tachnid Fly, Spined soldier bugs, Paper (and other) wasps, Spiders, and Fire ants.

From page 99 to page 130 the book is loaded with resources for citizen scientists, teachers, and gardeners. Projects listed include rescuing eggs, providing water sources, raising caterpillars, tagging butterflies, and butterfly crafts.

The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly sells for $12.50 online; it's worth twice that amount if its wide distribution helps save Monarch Butterflies, educate the public about sustainable gardening and opens children's eyes to the wonders of the world outside.




02 June 2017

June 10 Garden Tour - Fayettelville

The Flower Garden & Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas presents the 20th Annual Through the Garden Gate Tour June 10.from 9 to 4. 

Seven private gardens in Fayetteville plus Botanical Garden of the Ozarks will be featured.

 This is a rain or shine event.  
Tickets at $15 for the tour are available at all Westwood Gardens and at Botanical Garden.

  More info call 479-301-2128 or e-mail blowerk@prodigy.net

https://www.facebook.com/FGNSofNWA/