Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Speaking of bonsai...

A white pine that Fryar has been shaping since the 1980s
Bonsai on a large scale is topiary.  See this great article on Pearl Fryar in Bishopville, South Carolina in this month's American Craft magazine.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Letter from Dianne 7/27/12

Garden about 2 weeks ago

Suzanne, thought I'd better give you an update on the raised bed. You could describe it as 'the good, the bad and the ugly'…because it's all there. Needless to say, things have not done well at all in the heat and drought lately. Things started off well though, and I got oodles of tomatoes. I quit counting at 100 for my little 'Early Girl.' I will definitely plant her again. Maybe not the best 'home-grown' flavor but she makes up for it in quantity. The other tomatoes did well also, especially the plum tomato called 'Health Kick.' I recently have noticed something going on with the 'Black Cherry.' Leaves are still green but suddenly turn black and crispy, and some of the leaves do have little spots all over. I am hoping the heat is the contributor of that and not blight.

'Black Cherry' in background with top dying

The squirrels, which I thought would be the biggest problem have not bothered the garden at all. I had a great Goodwill Store book find 'The Tennessee Fruit and Vegetable Book' by Felder Rushing and Walter Reeves. In it they say to pick tomatoes as they just start ripening so as not to tempt squirrels and the like. I have been doing that in addition to keeping the hose stretched out all around the garden to simulate a snake (we have had snakes in our yard this year). I think these two measures, plus the grace of God, has given me a bountiful tomato crop.

Tomatoes ripening on the counter

I had trouble with Japanese beetles early on. They are easy to get if you hold a bucket of soapy under them and just thump them in. I have also been using an organic disease/bug repellant/fertilizer of 1 tbsp Neem oil, 1 tbsp Bt and 1 tbsp liquid seaweed, which seems to be working well. It even took care of the powdery mildew on the squash and cucumbers. I have noticed a couple of huge grasshoppers lately on which the spray did not have an effect on though. I have not been fertilizing in the heat except for the seaweed as mentioned above.

Red bell peppers ready to be picked

The peppers started out with a bang and then quit. They are now putting lots on again, especially the jalapeƱos and bananas. The okra is doing well also in the heat. I had planted the Clemson Spineless and the Burgundy. I have since pulled up the Burgundy, as it was not producing well, was attracting little mite-like bugs and pods were extremely tough. The one eggplant continues to produce well and there is a lot of basil. Cucumbers are still producing as well as the Dixie Speckled butter beans. I hope to plant one 4x8 bed of the butter beans next year, as they produce well and nothing seems to bother them. The pole beans did not fare well at all, probably due to the heat, as the blossoms just quickly fell off. I did get some zucchini and yellow squash, but not many. As always, the squash is a pain to grow with the squash bugs and borers. I only had one plant of each--without the bug problem, but did have vine borers. The chard is full of holes but I haven't pulled it up. When the weather gets cooler I will try cutting it back to see if it will have another flush.

This was labeled 'Pimento Pepper', so I assume it will turn red
Recent harvest

Despite the heat and drought, we have been happy with the raised bed so far. This week we got more lumber to start Bed #2!! That will be a fall project when the weather cools, and a perfect time to add shredded leaves to the fill. I am now thinking of what I will plant in the fall/winter garden. I have been instructed by my husband to plant lots and lots of Romaine, which is his favorite garden veggie so far, with a close second being the tomatoes.

All from the garden…zucchini, yellow squash, onions, red bell pepper and herbs


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Green Mushrooms

Green mushroom
I'm in North Carolina this week where (sorry) the high temps are in the low 80's.  We've also had afternoon showers almost every day, so it's just right for me!  Yesterday morning I was walking around my yard and saw some green mushrooms.  I've never seen green mushrooms before.  I went in the house to get my camera and while I was gone, my dog unearthed the prettiest one.  So this is what I was able to capture:

Top of mushroom

Underside and stem of mushroom
A little research leads me to believe that this is Russula parvovirescens.  It appears to be edible, but not me, sister.  I don't trust myself enough!

Monday, July 23, 2012

This and That

Bonsai Gingko - fabulous!
Last week's Memphis Area Master Gardener meeting was one of the best ever.  The Share and Learn was on landscape photography and the meeting speaker gave us a wonderful presentation on pruning small trees and perennials using techniques he learned by working with bonsai.  I took great notes.  Unfortunately those notes are in Memphis and I'm not.  So this is a teaser for future posts!

On Saturday I went with friends to Waterworks in Memphis to hear Cheryl Converse demonstrate good principles of container gardening.  How is it that she can just place a few plants into a container and it looks fantastic, but when I try to plant mine I end up agonizing for hours?  Not fair.  But I learned a LOT about thrillers, fillers, and spillers and about even using perennials in pots, which I've never done.  It's made me look at containers in a whole new way.  I was walking around downtown Blowing Rock, NC yesterday evening.  The main street is lined with these hanging planters on every streetlight, that the merchants' association maintains:

A water truck goes down the street every morning and these baskets are hand-watered!  Most of the merchants also have planters on the sidewalk outside of their doors.  Some are better than others, of course, but it's so nice to have the greenery and colors as you walk down the street window-shopping (or real shopping!)

A thriller and a spiller, not no filler

Green and white, a matching pair is on the other side of the door

Nasturtiums and petunias, does it need something tall?

My favorite!  Phlox, hosta, petunias, rose moss and something I didn't know
What are your favorite combinations?  Comment below or on our Facebook page - send pictures if you can, they're worth a thousand words!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

PAR Davies Update

"A garden is never so good as it will be next year."  --Thomas Cooper

From Dianne:

(Wish we had pictures - where's the camera when you need it?)

I guess I don't need to say it was hot in the garden Friday. Kay, Emily and I were there. The main things were watering and picking, and also some weeding was accomplished. We picked tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, peppers, parsley, basil and lima beans. Kay has the count, and naturally I forgot to get it. Kay delivered it to the Y, and it has been decided that the Friday produce goes to the Y.

We watered the newly planted beds--12 and 20, in which things are sprouting already. (Note:  we planted these beds with beans and cucumbers on Tuesday!)  The watermelon bed was cleaned out with plans to fill with the squash seedlings from Kay and also interspersed with the Dixie Speckled Butter Beans (actually a type of lima) that is growing in the square foot bed. I have lots of these seeds that I will drop by next Wednesday, or Monday if needed. The few plants in the square foot were loaded with these little beans, which were harvested today. One nice thing is that if these beans aren't picked right away, they can wait a while and still be good….which helps in our garden since we aren't there every day. Kay suggested that maybe watermelon was not a good crop for us, but cantelope was. The cantelope has done well, and since it likes being where it's at, we could expand it further on down the fence.

We agreed to transplant the strawberries to the small bed in the corner later on in summer, unless anyone has any other idea for that bed. We will then have empty pots which could be planted with lettuce, brussels sprouts, or other cool weather crops. Next spring we are planning on putting the 'Tumbling' tomatoes in the pots. The Tumbling Toms are red, Junior yellow and Zebra striped. They are very decorative and very prolific. That is the plan unless of course a better idea comes along.

Any suggestions?  Leave a comment.
Also be sure to check out the progress at Collierville Victory Garden!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Redbuds - Three Outstanding Cultivars

     An enduring favorite for brightening up the landscape in early spring, the native redbud (Cercis canadensis) has been transformed into dozens of unique cultivars during the last forty years. Redbuds  grow in acidic to neutral well drained soil and prefer morning sun and part shade in the afternoon.  In addition to being drought tolerant, disease resistant and unappetizing to deer, horticulturalists have developed cultivars with striking attributes.  Like the native redbud, these cultivars are the perfect small tree for the urban patio, lawn, and forest’s edge. Redbud cultivars come in a variety of forms, colors, and habits.

     For a sculptural statement, the Cercis  canadensis  ‘Cascading Hearts’ is the perfect pick.  A strong focal point in Tom Rieman’s front yard, it became quite a conversation piece during the MAMG 2012 Through Our Garden Gates Tour.  Reaching a maximum height of 15 ft., ‘Cascading Hearts’ is a weeping redbud variety with pendulous draping branches. Its flexible branches and tight growth habit make it less brittle and fuller than other weeping forms.  Its graceful habit, offers strong architectural form in the winter.  Deep mauve blooms adorn its branches in early spring. In the fall, the dark green small heart shaped leaves turn orange and red.  The Cercis canadensis ‘Cascading Hearts’ was developed by Steve Bennett of Riverbend Nurseries in Thompsons Station, TN.

     Growing from 6 to 15 ft., Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ is another weeping form, but with striking deep reddish purple leaves that turn yellow in the fall.  It has a strong branching form like ‘Cascading Hearts’ but offers a more open winter silhouette. Rose purple flowers bloom in abundance on bare branches in late March to early April. Dr. Dennis Werner of the University of North Carolina hybridized Cercis canadensis ‘Covey’ and C c ‘Forest Pansy’ to develop ‘Ruby Falls.’  Along with ‘Ruby Falls’, UNC’s  Dr. Werner introduced the variegated weeping redbud ‘Whitewater’ and the upright ‘Merlot’, with deep purple foliage, in 2010.

     Preferring more protection from afternoon sun than ‘Cascading Hearts’ and ‘Ruby Falls’,  the compact  Cercis canadensis  Rising Sun ™ , will add dazzle to any area. Its lime-green, deep tangerine, and apricot leaves are bound to elicit a “wow.” In the spring, small orchid blooms attract insects and bees. Fall foliage is a vivid golden orange. Unlike the rich brown bark of the above cultivars, the smooth yellowish- tan bark of Rising Sun a™ provides a lighter accent in winter. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society designated Rising Sun ™ as a 2012 Gold Medal Plant Award Winner for its “superb eye appeal, performance and, hardiness.”  This showy 8-12 ft. high and 8 ft. wide tree was developed by Ray Jackson of Jackson Nursery in Belvidere, TN. 

     Do you have a favorite redbud?

-- Jan Castillo, MG '05

Monday, July 16, 2012

Share and Learn - Sedums

Prior to the Memphis Area Master Gardener meeting each month, a member volunteers to share some special knowledge with the group in a presentation called "Share and Learn."  

Last month Jane Jordan and Joanne Watson shared their love of sedums and inspired us with instructions to make a living wreath.

A Living Wreath

(Note:  It's best to make a smaller wreath, as it can get very heavy.)

  1. Cut the top and the foot off of a pantyhose.  You will use one leg per wreath.
  2. Fill the let with potting soil which has already been dampened.
  3. Position the leg on a wreath form (you can find these at stores like Michaels.)
  4. Place wet moss on top of the soil filled pantyhose.
  5. Attach the soil and moss to the form with floral wire.
  6. Plant sedums as desired:  Poke a hole in the pantyhose with scissors and plant the sedum, securing with floral clips if needed.  
  7. Let the wreath sit for a couple of days so that plantings can root.  
  8. Hang in desired location.
In the Memphis area, Little/Hill Nursery and Gardens Oy Vey are great sources for sedums.

Sedums require little water, will root easily, and will come back each year - what else do you want?

Jane and Joanne had several pots of mixed sedums to show us.  They recommend using landscape fabric as liners in pots and baskets prior to planting.  They told us about some of their favorites.  Here are a few for you to research further:

Dragon's Blood
Creeping Jenny
Album Coral Carpet
Blue Spruce
Silver Gem Prostate Blue (likes shade)
Mazus reptanus

And here are more pictures:

Many thanks to Joanne and Jane!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Celebration 2012

The perfect day for walking around the grounds of the West Tennessee Research and Education Center in Jackson, TN yesterday.  It was overcast, occasionally misting and occasionally sunny, but not HOT!  We had a great time oohing and aahing over the gorgeous grounds while walking from building to tent to tent for the great lectures.  The theme for this year's Celebration was "Hydrangeas" and they were there in abundance.  Shade hydrangeas, sun hydrangeas, and sale hydrangeas.  I came away with 'Little Lime' for my new hydrangea bed, so I'm happy.  Here are some more images:

Pennisetum purpureum 'Vertigo' in the background

We loved these happy zinnias

Malabar Spinach growing on this mailbox - so lush!

Multi trunk Gingko

This gingko has a great story.  It was planted back in the early 60's.  The second year it was in the ground, it was run over by a lawnmower!  The director decided they couldn't afford to replace it, so they just left in there.  The next year it shot up multiple shoots and they just let it grow.  Over the past 50 years it's been pruned into this unbelievable shape.  It's really the most stunning gingko I've ever seen and I can't wait to go back in the fall and see the yellowness of it all.

Recognize old bedsprings?

And bicycle wheels?

More zinnias, they were so fabulous!

If you've not been to this garden, you should definitely plan a trip.  I'm going back for the Pumpkin Harvest Display.  Road trip, anyone?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Going and Coming - the Reveal

Remember how I posted that I was redoing some of my landscaping?  Well, it's finished now (for the time being!)  Here are some before and after photos.

Front - before

Front - after

South side - before

South side - after

North side - before

North side - after
You can't see them, but behind the azaleas on either side are Nikko Blue hydrangeas which I hope will peek over the tops of the azaleas next summer.

Back garden - before

Back garden - after

And do you remember my yearning for this trellis?  Thanks to my handy-dandy sons and daughter-in-law and girlfriend:

My Mother's Day trellis!

I made sure to leave space for future purchases - like maybe in Jackson this Thursday when I go to Summer Celebration!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Arctic's Frostbite

No, it's not wishful thinking about the temperatures this summer!  It's a new organic weed-control spray.  A company called Arctic Inc. in North Carolina has developed a spray which delivers a "killing frost" to weeds.  The genesis of the idea came to the company's co-founder when he was cleaning his computer keyboard with a frosty spray cleaner.  He thought he might try it on his crabgrass and eventually developed "Frostbite."  It can be used in warm weather, works in one to three days, is organic and leaves no residue.  Sound too good to be true?  Well, for the moment it's only available to professional landscapers and the like, but the company plans, eventually, to offer a consumer version for individual homeowners.

Here's a video from the company's website showing what happens to crabgrass in the the first two hours after application, compressed to about a minute:

Don't you wish you could be a beta-tester???

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Busy Trap

We're all guilty of it:  "I meant to [fill in the blank], but I've just been so busy!"  Do we have any control over this busyness?  Read this New York Times article and tell me what you think.