Monday, September 30, 2013

The Missouri Master Gardeners Conference

The Missouri Master Gardeners held their annual conference Sep 20-22 in Springfield, MO.  Springfield is the home of the Springfield Botanical Gardens, which is only ten years old, but so fantastic!  The MG's had dozens of garden tours and workshops, so it was hard to decide what to do.  I drove up with Debbie Pittman a day early so we could visit the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR.  Springfield is just a two hour drive from Bentonville, so it was easy.

We arrived early on Friday morning and almost immediately boarded a bus to visit Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  There we watched a presentation about organic seeds, toured their demonstration garden, shopped in their store, and ate a great lunch.

The demo garden was unusual.  It was constructed of flagstone, with sunken beds rather than raised beds.  Debbie and I agreed that this would break our backs and further ruin our knees!  The Baker Creek folks must be young.

Demo garden and the neat village buildings

Demo garden

Celosia in the demo garden

Cockscomb and ornamental peppers
They had seeds galore!  I bought several kinds of zinnias, Black Currant Hollyhock, De Bourbonne cucumber, and some beans for my dad.

They had animals, too!

This guy thought we had something for him to eat...

And, of course, chickens - my favorite!
Coming up - the amazing MG demonstration garden at the Botanical Gardens, MG garden tours, and more.

Friday, September 27, 2013

PAR Davies 9/25/13

Hi Everyone,

YTD TOTAL 2208 lbs

It was drizzling when we got to the garden Wed morning but that soon stopped. Gardeners were Susan, G.A., Virginia and myself…..not as many as usual, but we got done what needed to be done. G.A. dug right in and picked the okra and pulled the bean vines off the arched trellis. Thanks G.A. for doing the jobs none of us wanted to do! The beans on the trellis (Scarlett Runners and Long Asians) turned out to be more of a novelty than an edible crop. The Scarlett Runners had beautiful bright flowers, which some insect or bird really liked, as they were quickly eaten off. The Asian beans were good--what we were able to harvest. The only problem with either of these is that there were not enough to make a nice big batch at one time, as they had to be picked almost daily. I don't know if we will plant either of these again. I think next year that trellis might be home for the prolific and long producing Camilla cucumbers (similar to the English cukes you get in the store wrapped in plastic). These were pricey seeds, but well worth it.

Loaded up and ready to go
Virginia picked tomatoes, kale, basil, harvested the Kentucky Wonders and pulled out the vines. I am reminded why Kentucky Wonders never impressed me too much as we harvested the last of the beans. They were planted later in the season, but never produced the way the other pole beans did. Susan sowed the hairy vetch in one of the concrete beds and harvested the multitudinous peppers….bell, jalapeƱo, shishito, serrano, habanero and banana. I found out today that the immigrant ladies at the shelter really love all the varieties of peppers and they have been able to use all of them. I was worried that they were getting too many, but they are happy to get them. We had no idea the peppers were going to be so prolific. At the end of the pepper season, I will add up the pepper harvests to see just how many pounds of peppers we picked….more than a peck I'll bet!

I boxed and weighed our harvest of green beans, peppers, kale, okra, tomatoes, rosemary and lots of basil. The shelter folks love the basil too. All was delivered along with two bouquets of zinnias. We had two small cartons of kale, the beginnings of what looks like a nice crop. We had some cabbage worms last week but didn't see too much damage today, and the prized Savoy bed seemed untouched. I thinned out the kohlrabi bed and transplanted some to fill in empty spaces. A row of lettuce was sown next to the bok choy, which is emerging nicely after planting last week, but will need to be thinned out soon.

Unloading at the YWCA office on Highland
We are gradually getting beds cleaned out, and will start on some of the tomato beds next week. Everything looks pretty good, and the two rows of turnip greens sown last week are coming up nicely as well as the cilantro. We were able to start picking some of the rosemary that we started from cuttings early in the summer, just in time for fall roasted veggies and chicken.

We will have plenty to do Saturday. Friday I will send out a reminder and a list of what needs to be done.

'Til then,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Garden Tours - Jimmy Williams

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of touring Jimmy Williams' garden in Paris, TN.  Most of us at MAMG are familiar with this garden; Jimmy has been a guest speaker both at our meetings and at Spring Fling.  But seeing it in person is pretty special.

Non Nobis Solum - "Not for Us Alone"

Standing at the entrance to the front garden

A collection of hypertufa containers

'Silver Mist' Deodor Cedar

Garden rooms are around every corner

What's around this curve?

And this one?

The plant combinations are wonderful.

The views are amazing.
There's something for everyone...

A bright, colorful border...
A woodland path...

Classical garden art...

And whimsy.
This little guy followed us around!

On white

And orange!
Thanks to Jimmy for opening his garden and to Dan Dziekonski for being our tour guide.  You may be able to see them at the Southeast Conifer Society Conference on October 10-11 at Memphis Botanic Garden.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Garden Tours - P. Allen Smith

One of the best ways to get ideas for your own garden is to visit others.  Especially if you visit gardens in your own zone, you can get a good idea of what works and how it actually looks.  That's why we at Memphis Area Master Gardeners host an annual tour of MAMG gardens called "Through Our Garden Gates."  That's why we have a monthly mini-tour for MAMG members (one of the many perks of membership!) of various member gardens that we call "Gardens in Progress."  Nothing stays the same from year to year in the garden, right?  A plant can be perfectly happy for years, then bang - it's gone.  New plants come along all the time that we absolutely must have.  That's why we love gardening so much - there's always something going on!

Even famous garden personalities are not immune to this constant experimentation.  Last Friday I had the pleasure of visiting Moss Mountain Farm, the home of P. Allen Smith, near Little Rock, AR.

View from the visitor parking area

It was a perfectly beautiful day.  We arrived around 10:00 and had an hour to wander around on our own before the tour started at 11:00.  I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Entrance to the vegetable garden

One of the herb beds

Notice all the raised beds?

Vegetables, fruits, berries
The walk to the rose garden

Rose garden view

Side view of the house.  The small building is Allen's painting studio.

A view to the Arkansas River.  The apple orchard is by the river and
there is a separate stone fruit orchard.

Espaliered pears!  There's lots of espalier here - a big space saver.

A pretty color combination in the "brights" border

The "brights" border - reds, yellows, oranges.  On the other
side of that far gate is the "pastel" border - blues, whites, pinks.
In progress:  this arbor was first planted with grapes (too hard to prune)
then with Baseball Bat Gourds (dangerous) and now they're trying
small ornamental gourds.
This fig is over 80 years old and was moved from another location on the
farm.  It's very happy.

This Post Oak is over 350 years old.  It was struck by lightning a couple
of years ago and now has cable throughout for reinforcement
as well as a lightning rod!

We got to tour the house, too.  This is the fab kitchen.
Who wouldn't get a good night's sleep on this screened sleeping porch?
We had a delicious lunch in the barn.
But my favorite part?  Chickens, of course!

Outside the barn door.

All kinds of chickens!

A curious rooster
Toulouse Ducks

There are turkeys, too!  In fact, Allen is building a new barn called Poultryville to house all of the different birds.  The barn will open on Saturday, September 21 with an all-day workshop on raising poultry.  Sounds like another road trip!

I picked up some neat items in the giftshop, including Allen's new cookbook (which he autographed!), a great birdhouse, strawberry jelly (really jam), and a dozen fresh eggs.

Sunday morning breakfast!
What did I learn?  I loved the symmetry of the basic garden structure, within which the plants themselves provided a sense of the utter joy of being a plant.  They held back nothing, they were fully and completely what they were born to be.  Just give them a good place and they'll do the rest.

I'd love to go back in the spring - maybe we can get a group together then?