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:
It was a nippy 45 degrees as I left this morning for a beautiful drive to Warren, Arkansas to conduct MG training for the MGs of the Delta. They had an outstanding class and the room was decorated with flora from the wild and it looked amazing.
My cousin texted me old photos last night she found in a box. It was fun looking back. Here is another she sent.
Don’t we all look just the same? Wish Mom were still here too. I love looking back at old photos and remembering. Aren’t families great!
I hope you can get out and enjoy this glorious fall weather. We should have a great fall display!
My schedule has been a bit busy the past few days and I did not blog. Hasn’t the weather been glorious?! I think it is always amazing after a hard rain how clean and clear everything seems. I have had almost 6 inches of rain in the past week, so my plants are happy. I have been a bit occupied with other events and didn’t check the okra and I had some whoppers! I must have had one green seed in the midst of the red ones, and I have more okra than I can use with more coming on. And to think I thought an August planting would be too late to produce!
I was in Fayetteville yesterday to teach a class on the UA
campus and the fall color is beginning to turn. Sweetgums, red maples and the sumac are turning brilliant shades of red. The sky had some great puffy clouds and coupled with the blue sky made it a beautiful drive. In another week or two the fall color should be amazing.
I left campus and drove to Eureka Springs to meet with the Carroll county MGs to start planning the 2016 MG conference. They had a good turnout and we chose our chairpeople–Mary and Karen. They will do a very good job leading a great group of volunteers.
As I was staying with Mary and Richard, the president Tammy and co-chair Karen followed us home after the meeting to do some strategic planning and set some more dates. We finished about 10:45 pm. After an outstanding breakfast I was on the road by 7:30 to head back to LR to do Pulaski County MG training all afternoon. In spite of the Saturday training in Pulaski county with 38 Pulaski County trainees, they also had 37 today. They now have a great new crop of volunteers.
Tomorrow I head to Warren to train the MG of the Delta group. October is a busy month.
It was a great reunion of our Scottish travelers today, and the weather gave it even a more Scottish feel–misty rain and mild temperatures. 25 of the travelers came with spouses and/or significant others and we had over 30 today to recap a fabulous trip. Clay has done another outstanding video and it really makes the trip feel somehow more real–and it makes us all want to go back. We did 4 showings of the video so everyone had a chance to see it on our big screen, and then everyone got to take home a copy. Those who did not make it, will get one sent to them.
If you ever have the opportunity to travel with us, it really is a learning experience. We saw great gardens, experienced the culture of another country, but also learned a lot about each other. I always come away feeling I have made new friends, and today felt almost like a family reunion. Great food and great fellowship–and lots of food–we had shepherds pie, bangers and mash, 2 soups–potato and leek and potato, Guinness stew, Branford pickle and cheese sandwiches, tea sandwiches, scones, shortbread, pate, cheese, fruit, and so much more. It was outstanding, but the company was even better.
During the reunion, we discussed future trips, but we also talked with Bren who has since moved to Oregon, and we called our fabulous bus driver in Scotland– Stewart–and we all had a word. We were fortunate that my friend Chris who is from Scotland was on hand to help make the call as I had Stewart’s number in my phone but from in Scotland, not the USA and I was clueless.
A fine time was had by all! If you have ideas of travel destinations, share them, as I will be trying to set some for the upcoming years. We have a couple of rooms left for our France trip, so come join us!
We went to sleep with rain and woke up to drizzly stuff. All told, I have received 2 inches of rain in the past two days and I am thankful. The rain also brought with it much cooler temperatures. It did not get much above 61 degrees today and felt much more fall-like. It was a great day to be inside, which is where many gardeners were at the 2nd (and highly expanded) Garland County Garden Expo. Put on by the Garland County Master Gardeners, the church gymnasium was packed to the rafters with educational exhibits. They had a few vendors selling plants, baked goods and of course, our own County 76 selling garden and MG gear. Thank you Marcella! She had a booming business.
The MGs covered all bases when it came to gardening information. You could learn about orchids,
hostas, garden art, vermicomposting, rain barrels, vegetable gardening, herbs and their uses, ornamental grasses and composting. In addition the Extension Homemakers were there to talk canning, Garvan Gardens and the Garland County library was there to showcase what they offer, and I was there to answer questions and get folks interested in signing up to be a MG. We had a lot of interest and several took applications with 2 filling them out and turning them in on the spot! They had goody bags for the first 100 that were homemade out of fabric with loads of stuff–they were gone in a flash. Over 300 people attended. There were slightly used garden books and magazines to take for free, and copies of fact sheets, soil boxes and MG applications.
A demonstration on pumpkin decorating set the record straight. Bob and I were slightly misinformed on how they made these beautiful pumpkins. We were under the impression you cut the top and planted them with these succulents. I didn’t think it was a great idea, since I had used one for a flower arrangement once and it imploded quickly making a mess on my table, even though I did line it with melted wax. Instead, you leave the pumpkin intact, but put some sphagnum moss at the top and using a glue gun glue the stems of the succulents and other items on the top. Quite pretty and should last much longer than a cut pumpkin.
Already one of mine is gone–it was like the wicked witch of the west “I’m melting!”
Another demonstration was on propagation. Using 2 terra-cotta pots, with a covering over the drain hole in the larger one and a plug (cork) in the drainage hole in the smaller one, Marilyn lined the large one in builders sand, then put the second pot inside. You can put your cuttings in the sand around the pot and then fill the smaller pot with water. The water slowly permeates the clay pot to keep the sand moist and the plants root quickly.
Then it was a nice drive home in misty rain to do a little cooking with a friend for a friend. I also worked on getting in supplies for the party tomorrow and made a food delivery. Tomorrow is the Scotland reunion. Can’t wait to reconnect with all our travelers!