Today was a gorgeous day for a drive. As we were leaving town we decided to stop and have Beignets at the local favorite Coffee Call. I normally make beignets for my daughter Katie’s birthday breakfast, so since today was her birthday, I ate them in her honor–instead of cooking them!
I made it home in plenty of time to open presents and we just returned from a nice dinner out. I did take time to check the gardens and things look good. A few pots on the deck were a tad dry, but overall, the plants are coming on nicely.
We had a wonderful conference, and thanks to Baton Rouge Master Gardeners for all the work they put in making a great conference for those of us who attended. We connected with a lot of Master Gardeners, and saw new plants, learned new information–like banana juice for attracting butterflies–10 over-ripe bananas, 1 pound of brown sugar and a tall can of dark beer (Guinness). Blend and allow head room for fermentation purposes, then put out for the butterflies!
Today was the last full day of the southern region MG conference. We had keynote addresses by Norman Winter on color combinations, soil prep by Joe Lamp’l and then breakout concurrent sessions in the afternoon. Before the keynote, we had a group photo, but could only find 1/2 of our 30.
We also went to Burden gardens on the LSU campus. They had several different trial gardens, vegetable gardens, herb gardens, rose gardens, ginger gardens and walking trails. I wish we had access to something like this in Arkansas. We saw some new varieties of red or purple mustard that would be an amazing ornamental. There were fields of sunflowers, fruit varieties and much more.
We have seen a lot of new plant ideas and learned a lot of new information, plus sharing with each other about how our different states work. This afternoon I heard two good talks–one from Allen Owings on roses and one from Norman Winter on butterfly gardening.
Tomorrow we will try to get everything loaded up and head back to Arkansas. It has been a great trip so far, so we hope the ride home is uneventful
Today was a very full day. We started off with welcome and information from our host county. There are 514 Master Gardeners and staff registered from all the southern states plus others. The first speaker was Marcelle Bienvenu from Nicholls State University on the Evolution of Cajun and Creole Cuisine. Then we heard Mary Palmer Dargan on Lifelong Garden Design.
We spent more time in the trade show while the line ran down for lunch. We are recruiting vendors for our Arkansas conference as well. We found a wonderful camellia nursery who is planning on being at the 2015 Arkansas Flower & Garden Show and hopes to do the 2015 MG Conference. We also had a vendor here from Gamalia Arkansas–near Mt. Home. She has recently moved there and hopes to do more with us. She makes wonderful glass objects.
Then after our buffet lunch, people had options of garden tours or seminars. Julie and I went to the Hammond Research Station and had a wonderful tour led by renowned horticulturist Allen Owings. We saw their trial gardens with quite a few unique new varieties of plants we know and a whole host of plants I had never heard of. Plant mystery challenges may be getting a bit more challenging!
Then we made it back with a few minutes to freshen up and head to a Cajun dinner and tour of John Folse’s White Oak Plantation. There was not much daylight left to take good pictures of the grounds, but I did the best I could. It is a restored plantation with nice vegetable, herb, fruit and ornamental gardens. The owner and chef was on hand to talk to folks. Then they had a Cajun band perform while we sampled foods from various stations around the grounds. They had gumbo, etoufee, catfish, pork, jambalya and bread pudding. It was all quite good. Then we road the bus back. A full day for sure!
Tomorrow there are more seminars, keynote speakers, optional tours and trade show. Tomorrow night is the banquet.
We had a leisurely morning getting organized in Baton Rouge. We registered for the conference and then went to explore a bit of Baton Rouge before the trade show and conference got started. We had a great breakfast, saw some interesting gardens and plants and did a bit of shopping. Plants are much cheaper in Louisiana we have decided. Too bad we don’t have a truck. I also have taken pictures of many plants we can use for the mystery plant challenge. We have seen quite a bit of wax leaf ligustrum used, as hedges and as topiary or spiral cut plants.
The weather is cool in the mornings and got up to about 83 this afternoon. We had a great shrimp po boy at George’s and saw an interesting coffee can planter display outside. A unique way to recycle, but doesn’t appear too good for the plants!
We have been seeing Arkansas Master Gardeners arriving off and on all day. I think the final count is 30–from Fayetteville to El Dorado and all points in between. We have also reconnected with many of the MGs who attended the Alaskan cruise last year and my counterparts in the southern states. The trade show was quite nice today with a good mix of plants and other items. There are also a few southern states with displays from their state. I like this sign from Mississippi. Maybe we need some of these.
Tom, the coordinator from Florida, joined Julie, Mary and I for a great dinner at Juban’s. Even though Tom is from Florida, he doesn’t eat any seafood. His dinner got delayed, so they brought him a complimentary shrimp cocktail. We took one for the team and ate his shrimp for him, so he wouldn’t look rude! By the way, they were outstanding. So far, Julie and I have eaten nothing but seafood since we left Arkansas and haven’t had a bad meal yet. Tomorrow is an early morning breakfast and opening session ending with a Cajun experience tomorrow night. A full day of seminars and tours are in between.
We had a beautiful day for a drive, and it was a pleasant trip to Baton Rouge. The 6 1/2 hour drive took a bit longer as we stopped at points of interest along the way. The first stop was a small nursery, famous for their spectacular field grown mums. The plants were quite stunning, but more stunning were the prices. If we had a truck, we could have loaded up.
As it was, I did break down and buy a mum, which is now residing in my hotel room for 4 days! Probably not the wisest decision.
It was the first Saturday for awhile that I was not working, so I got a lot accomplished. After an early morning run to the grocery store, I got dishes prepared for supper club tonight. I roasted all the vegetables I had recently harvested –all the eggplants, peppers, tomatoes along with an onion and several cloves of garlic. Then after they were done, I pureed it in the food processor for a wonderful dip for tonight. I also cleaned and seared a beef tenderloin and put that in the fridge, and made a pear crumble from pears MGs gave me in Carroll county. Once that was all done, I then spent several hours in the garden.
I made a huge dent in what I had hoped to get done. I pulled the green beans and planted bok choy in that space. I pulled up some of the eggplants and tomatoes and added soil around the remaining two tomato plants and planted Brussels sprouts, dinosaur kale, lettuce, and arugula. I fertilized everything and watered the new plants in. I have lots of kale, spinach and lettuce coming up from seed, and the onions look really good too.
The dinosaur kale and giant red mustard greens I planted a few weeks ago are growing huge already. Anybody have any good recipes for dinosaur kale? I have also heard it called Italian kale. It is really pretty.
I also cleaned up the herb garden, cutting back many of the basil plants severely and planting some more cilantro and parsley.
My pineapple sage is finally in full bloom and is stunning. I love this plant and it is a great perennial in the garden.
The recent rains and the mild temperatures have really spurred on fall flowers. I have buds opening on my camellia, and the Soft Caress mahonia is in bloom, along with Japanese anemones and I can see the start of flower buds on my Christmas rose hellebore already.
And the harlequin clereodendron just gets better each day. From fragrant white blossoms to these stunning pink and blue waxy flowers, even though it is agressive, I love this plant!
I also got around to the deck today, replanting several containers and reorganizing. Katie blew off the deck and we saw no signs of yellow jackets! In fact, we even started supper club outdoors on the patio tonight. It did get a bit nippy towards the end. Then we came inside for a great meal. Everyone brought a dish to add to the meal and it was amazing. Great food and great friends!
It has been a busy and productive week. Julie and I tried to wrap up as much as we could since we leave Monday morning for Baton Rouge and the Southern Region MG Conference. The extended forecast shows great weather,so I hope that holds true.
I did forget to give the answers to last weeks mystery plant challenge and offer a new one, so here goes:
Mystery plant A – is a native deciduous shrub called winged sumac – Rhus copallina (roos kop-al-EYE-nuh). It can get 15 feet tall or more and has compound leaves with that extra wing or tissue along the midrib of the leaves. It has outstanding fall color, but can be a bit agressive in the home landscape. The plants set large, showy red fruits in the center which have many culinary uses.
Native Americans and early colonists used this native plant to create a refreshing, pink lemonade hundreds of years ago–which Tamara Walkingstick, our extension forester often makes for workshops. The berries have a sour flavor and can replace lemon in many recipes. In the middle east sumac is used to flavor many dishes, and the Middle Eastern spice blend zaatar (zatar) has sumac as the main ingredient. As a spice it is generally used ground. If the berries are whole, they should be steeped in hot water for about 30 minutes; then strained through a cheesecloth and squeezed to extract an aromatic liquid for use in cooking waters or marinades.
Mystery plant B – is an interesting one. I thought I was using the Mexican Coral Vine picture I took (the second shot) when in reality I got the shot of Oriental knotweed – Persicaria orientalis (per-sih-KAR-ee-u) which is growing in a mixed planting with a grape vine on an arbor at the BGO. Knotweed or Kiss me over the garden gate (a common name) is not a vine, but an annual plant that can grow 4 – 8 feet or more in height and can be trained almost as a vine. Ann Wood is the only one who caught the error–everyone else guessed coral vine -Antigonon leptopus ( an-TIG-oh-non LEP-toh-puss) which is in the same family Polygonaceae, but a much more vigorous vine, however not very hardy in NW Arkansas.
is the evergreen shrub Fatsia japonica (FAT see uh). It is not too hardy further north than central Arkansas unless it is in a protected spot. The mottled leaf is one that shed from the plant. It loves the shade and can give a tropical look to a landscape.
Here are your choices for this week: