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Halloween party

October 30, 2014
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Today was a busy day at the office where I worked on a variety of upcoming events. I have almost finalized the powerpoints for Tuesdays fall color workshop at Garvan Gardens–which is sold out. I am covering fall perennials and planting and care. fall planter sept14.

I also am working on a unique idea for the state MG conference. We have a rare opportunity to have our conference in an area adjacent to a movie theater. I am trying to arrange a “Master Gardener documentary film festival”. I worked on it today and have some great leads. I think it will be exciting if we can make it work.

After a full day, tonight I got to unwind at Chris Olsen’s Halloween party. As always, his house and gardens were amazing!! He doesn’t do anything in a small way, and tonight was no exception. I took Randy Forst, the new Pulaski staff chair. I knew he would be impressed and wowed. My camera just doesn’t do justice to low light, but as you walked up he had smoke billowing out of blowers near the house and pumpkins and gourds of all shapes were everywhere in the yard and home. chris olsen party oct.1406chris olsen party oct.1405

chris olsen party oct.1404
Inside, the theme continued with pumpkins and color in abundance.
Progressing to the backyard, the pool had floating pumpkins chris olsen party oct.1408
A new feature in the backyard is a tastefully done outdoor fireplace and seating area. chris olsen party oct.1407
Everywhere you wandered there were pumpkins on stands or containers full of color. There is always so much to see, that you sometimes get overwhelmed.
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In addition to being amazed by the decor, there was great food and beverages and of course, a whole host of interesting people to visit with. It was a great night to be outside.

A beautiful day

October 29, 2014
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Doesn’t it always look refreshing outside after a rain? Everything just seems cleaner and brighter–even if you don’t live on a dirt road. The skies were bright and blue today and the temperatures were amazing. It would have been much nicer to be home working in the garden on a day like this.

I worked on quite a few projects this morning before meeting a friend for a late lunch. I love that businesses and restaurants are paying more attention to landscaping and outdoor seating. These dragonwing begonias are huge and really make a statement around US Pizza on Kavanaugh. dragonwing begonias oct29.14.1

dragonwing begonias oct29.14.2

This afternoon we worked on more of the actual footprint of the 2015 state MG meeting–trying to fit where everything will go. benton event center layout.142 I went to see the new Fairfield Inn Hotel that is now open and adjacent to the event center. It is very nice. They have public spaces, an indoor pool and a meeting room as well as very nice lodging rooms.
Fairfield Inn Marriott Benton.14.01

Fairfield Inn Marriott Benton.14.02

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As soon as I know how many rooms are left in each facility we are reserving, I will share.

My garden really liked the slow, steady rain of yesterday. Everything looks great. My tropical butterfly weed plants probably are in a quandry over the 44 degrees tonight, but the warm weather of the weekend had them trying to put on an abundance of flower buds at every joint. Not sure if they will have time to open or not. P1030946
My lettuce and kale are growing in leaps and bounds, and all the transplants are gaining it seems like daily.
fall veggies oct29.142

fall veggies oct29.143 and the harlequin clereodendron is so showy now. The waxy “flowers” are actually the seed pods–the blue seed surrounded by the red calyx. Stunning! harlequin plant oct29.1 My buddleia has more blooms now than it has all growing season, and the Little Henry itea is turning its fall color.buddleia oct29.14
itea fall color.oct29.

Busy with meetings

October 28, 2014
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Yesterday was a day of catch up after a week out of the office. I wrote columns, checked mail (I had been doing email all along) and got organized for upcoming programs. Last night we had our monthly planning session for the 2015 State MG conference. I was so busy that I forgot to take any pictures. Imagine that!saline county planning sept8 (2)

Today we awoke to much cooler temperatures and it didn’t even start getting light outside until I was headed to the office. It has been a gloomy day, but I only got 1/3 of an inch of rain. Welcome though it was! Today was our last quarterly meeting of County 76–our statewide MG advisory group. We had excellent attendance and I continue to be amazed at the quality and quantity of the work this group does. We inducted 3 new members today and new officers. county 76 oct28.1402President John had to step down for health reasons, so VP Jane has moved up and Linda has moved into the VP position. We have great officers, committee chairs and members, so we are well positioned for the upcoming year.

Jane did a great job leading the meeting. I did a recap on money issues for MG’s and after lunch we had active committees working hard all afternoon. county 76 oct28.1404

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Cleburne County showed off their inventive MG at work sign. I have all the specifications if folks are interested in making their own. county 76 oct28.1411

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In two weeks we have a board retreat to recap our year and plan for next year. If you have ideas or suggestions, please forward them on to me or Julie or one of the board members.

A beautiful but warm October weekend

October 26, 2014
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The skies were a clear blue all weekend long, but the temperatures felt more like summer than fall. The most gardening I did was watering! I did pick a few vegetables and do a bit of clean-up but not much else. The trees are really beginning to put on their fall display. From beautiful reds on red maples and sweetgums to orange and yellow of the few sugar maples we have.
sugar maple oct25.14.2

sugar maple oct25.14.1

red maple fall foliage.20142

red maple fall foliage.20141
I drove around my neighborhood this afternoon shooting pictures. I was surprised to see the small Lake Forman in our neighborhood was really low and only one surviving swan was swimming around.
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Our dogwoods and crape myrtles are also beginning to put on a show. We were surprised by how bare the crape myrtles were in Baton Rouge. Not only no fall, color, but hardly any leaves were left.
crape myrtles baton rouge 2914. I asked about the problem and was told they had a bad case of cercospera leaf spot which has prematurely defoliated the trees. They blame the wet summer for the problem. Most of ours are full of leaves, which are beginning to turn, and some have a few errant blooms left.crapemyrtle oct26.14

My sasanqua camellia is really putting on its show and the plant is loaded with buds, so I expect to have blooms for months. I also bought a camellia sinensis in Baton Rouge. Did you know that the tea that you drink comes from this plant? I only bought one, but the folks who sold it, plan to be at the Arkansas Flower & Garden Show this year, so I can get more. It has pretty white blooms which are just beginning to open. These plants are the ones we get green, black, white, and oolong tea from. Each type (green vs. black) is made using different processing before drying of the leaves. I have never picked my own tea leaves, but time will tell. It is pretty small now, so I think I will just let it grow and hope it survives the winter.
camellia sinensis oct26141

camellia sinensis oct26142

Here are the answers to your mystery plant challenge and the new one:

Mystery plant A – mystery plants oct14.14.3 is the Chinese tallow tree or popcorn tree– Sapium sebiferum. Although it is a fairly showy tree, especially when the fruit matures and pops open to show white waxy “popcorn”-like seeds, a mature tree can produce over 100,000 seeds and many of them germinate. It can be invasive where winter doesn’t limit its spread. Central Arkansas is on the cusp, but further south it is a real issue. Don’t plant it!

Mystery plant B – mystery plants oct14.14.2 is the bush that is dotting the landscape up and down the roadways right now in Arkansas. Groundsel bush is the common name–Baccharis halimifolia is the Latin name. The plant is dioecious, meaning separate male and separate female plants. The female plants are the showiest with white tuft-like blooms. It gives a lot of color to our late summer drives, but it too can get a bit too happy and spread. If you plant it in the landscape, regular shearing would be called for to keep it manageable, and learn to recognize seedlings!

Mystery plant C – mystery plant oct 15.14 is a wildflower–one of the milkweeds: Asclepias viridis. According To Theo Witsell it is pretty common in the prairie regions of the state, but it was new to me. Several of you got it correct as well–great job!

Here is your new challenge: (All pictures taken in Baton Rouge)
Mystery plant A -mystery plants oct27.8 is a vine

Mystery plant B – mystery plants oct27.1

mystery plants oct27.2

mystery plants oct27.3 is an evergreen shrub–hopefully hardy in a protected spot in central Arkansas and south.

Mystery plant C mystery plants oct27.4

mystery plants oct27.5 is a new variegated form of a tropical plant for us.

Good Luck!

The road to home and birthday

October 24, 2014
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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! P1030876

P1030877 Julie had never had beignets so it was another treat for her. Then it was an easy drive home, and we easily fit everything in the car.

Today is Katie’s 26th birthday. My how she has grown! P1030879

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Happy Birthday Katie! It is a joy to be your mother.

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!

A great day of learning

October 23, 2014
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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. group photo

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.  burden lsu.2014.1burden lsu.2014.6 dinosaur kale.lsu P1030835 passionflower.lsu2 roses.lsu.201406 vegetables.lsu1We saw some new varieties of red or purple mustard that would be an amazing ornamental.mustard ornamental.lsu. mustard trials.lsu.141 mustard trials.lsu.144 There were fields of sunflowers, fruit varieties and much more.lsu.group1 sunflowers lsu.145

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

SR MG conference

October 22, 2014
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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.  P1030633

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.  P1030634 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.  hammond research center 2014.4 hammond research center 2014.6 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!

Here are some I did know–just not the varieties: variegated gardenia-  gardenia variegated hammond. 141 celosia, celosia Intenz Hammond.oct.14.4 giant amaranth- summer poinsettia amararanthus summer poinsettia hammond.2 and a whole host of shrubs and trees.

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.  white oak plantation john folse15 (2) white oak plantation john folse15 (3) white oak plantation john folse15 (4) white oak plantation john folse15 (10) white oak plantation john folse15 (14) 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.

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