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Finally, a day in the yard

July 21, 2014

I got up early and hit it! I had a day to spend in the yard trying to catch up.  I did have the help from both of my children off and on, so we actually got quite a bit accomplished. I weed-whacked the front yard until the battery died, then it went on the charger, to be used later in the day.  I hand-pulled weeds, and pruned out a ton of privet, honeysuckle, running kerria, and vinca.  I also had some gigantic poke salat plants which went into the pile.  We had a system going.  We were cutting and loading all morning.  While we are nowhere near finished, it is looking a LOT better.  I have to admit, I was so busy, I did not take my camera with me.  While we were pulling and cutting weeds in the back, I found a rogue cherry tomato plant, loaded with tomatoes.  We cleaned up around it and staked it, so we are hoping for good returns.

I was on my last pruning of privet, when I cut at the base and it looked like a piece of rope wrapped around the base, but then a little head popped up–Snake! I decided I had done enough there today.  I am not a huge fan of snakes, and not sure what this one was, but it was small–thankfully!

We finally planted the caladium bulbs I bought over a month ago, and I also planted a small Japanese maple and a few other plants.  My son hauled the heavy bags around, so we used up most of the super soil and garden soil I had.  I have cleaned up the vegetable garden and now need some more seeds and plants to plant.  I plan to put out a fall crop of both warm and cool season stuff.  I did turn on the sprinkler to water in the fertilizer I put out on all the annuals, vegetables and tropicals.

The tropical milkweed is doing great, and I have bees all over the abelia and even on the hydrangea.

milkweed tropical july 21Speaking of hydrangeas, the strawberry vanilla panicle plant looks great and is even beginning to show a hint of pink this year.

hydrangea strawberry vanilla july 21.The mild weather and ample rainfall has really allowed our gardens to thrive.  I think this is one of the first summers where you can’t tell who is caring for their garden and who isn’t–the rain is keeping everything green and growing–along with the weeds. I have pulled a ton today!

We cleaned up and had a nice late sushi lunch out, ran to the library and I worked on editing photos of Scotland the rest of the afternoon. Tonight I cooked dinner–we had grilled carrots with chicken and quinoa, and the carrots were quite nice–I used a glaze of olive oil and balsamic.– Carrot dish #1!

carrots for grillingThen the rest of the evening I spent putting together a powerpoint on the Gardens of Scotland for tomorrows County 76 meeting. It is hard to narrow the choices from over 2000 pictures to a 30-45 minute talk. I will be speed talking tomorrow to get through. It was so much fun reliving the gardens and the trip putting this together–and now it is off to bed!


Sunday and Mystery Plants

July 20, 2014

Today was another busy day, but a fun one.   The girls harvested all the remaining carrots. All told, I grew about a bushel of carrots in three small rows.  They have been quite prolific, so this is going to be a carrot week–I am looking for good recipes, so send them my way.  I also sent the tiny ones home with Emily to feed to her hamster Pumpkin.

carrots july 20.14.2 carrots july 20.14.4After doing some things around the house, we went down to the Sunday market at Bernice Gardens.  Since I am tied up on Saturdays, I needed my farmers market fix.  It was a hopping market.  I did buy some sweet corn, potatoes, green beans, and a few Traveler tomatoes. I am harvesting quite a few cherry type tomatoes, but my big ones aren’t turning yet.

bernice garden farmers market.july20.1 bernice garden farmers market.july20.2 bernice garden farmers market.july20.5In addition to being a farmers market site, it may also be rented for events throughout the year.  The gardens and the art around it are unique, with some herbs and vegetables thrown in. They are trying what I would call “passive solarization”.  They have covered up a weed pit with some clear plastic. It would have been better to have cut the weeds and tilled thoroughly before covering, but time will tell.  The mild temperatures may also impact the success, since solarization relies on high temperatures to help cook the soil.

solarization wrong. july2014.We went to see Malificent this afternoon, a nice, but slightly dark movie.  Then I went to visit a good friend and MG Bren Coop. She and David are moving to Oregon later this week, and I wanted to see her garden. It would be hard to leave this garden (and home) since they are both lovely and really well done, but family beckons. If you are in the market for a new home in Sherwood, this is a great option.  Not only is the house move-in ready, but you would have a beautiful garden to boot.

bren coops garden.july.1 bren coops garden.july.3 bren coops garden.july.6 hydrangea paniculata.julyNow here are your mystery plants for the week:


Mystery plant A – mystery plant july 28.1 mystery plant july 28.2It is a deciduous shrub, with multiple stems and small thorns on the stems.

Mystery Plant B-mystery plant july 21.1 mystery plant july 21.3is a tropical plant.

Mystery Plant C – mystery plant july21.c.2 mystery plant july21.c.3is a perennial.

Good Luck!

Saturday training and houseguest

July 19, 2014

We had another full day of MG training. Today Faulkner County was the host county. They helped with registration, breaks and meals and did a fine job.

sat mg training day 2.july19.04

Today was mainly vegetables, but Jon Z. our bee expert also did a wonderful presentation on bees and pollinators for the garden

sat mg training day 2.july19.01

and MG Martha F. did an outstanding job on herbs for the garden. She also brought samples for people to smell and take home.  It was a great day of learning.

sat mg training day 2.july19.12 sat mg training day 2.july19.09 sat mg training day 2.july19.07

Holly’s daughter Emily is spending the weekend with us while Holly and her husband celebrate their anniversary. She hung out with Katie and Clay today, and tonight we made homemade pizzas, picked produce from the garden, and played Clue and watched a movie. I think we are all pooped now and headed to bed.

emily and katie july 19.08 emily and katie july 19.10 emily and katie july 19.02

Is this really July?

July 18, 2014

What amazing weather for July in Arkansas!  Temperatures in the low 60′s in the morning and not even getting to 70 degrees and it is July 18!  I am not complaining, but people were wearing jackets today, and I have heard tales of people potentially turning on their heaters!! In JULY!  I don’t turn on my heater until December.  We got a nice, slow steady rain yesterday evening and in to mid day. I got less than 3/4 of an inch total, but the plants and ground benefited more from this than the deluge we had on Monday. When it rains so hard water runs off, and doesn’t have time to penetrate.

Normally summer is a bit slower pace for us at the office, but that hasn’t been the case so far this year.  Julie and I blink and the day is gone, and we have more to do. It does make the time go by quickly, but it needs to slow down a bit.  We have been working to try to finalize the 2015 MG calendar, training for tomorrow, County 76 meeting on Tuesday, MG business card order forms, 2015 State conference and I am starting on the 3 part landscape design workshop at Garvan coming up July 28.  It is sold out.  I also have been working on powerpoints and columns.  My new technology that I mentioned yesterday still has a steep learning curve. I spent an hour early this morning on a powerpoint that got lost in space.  Frustrating to say the least! But as with anything, once I master it, it will make my life much easier.

Tomorrow is day 2 of our Saturday training and is predominately on vegetable gardening.  Our vegetable specialist retired July 1, so Randy, Kami and I are doing the teaching tomorrow, along with a MG on herbs.

Here are the answers to your mystery plants for the week:

Mystery plant A – mystery plant july 14.1

I thought everyone would get this right since it is the featured photo in our 2014 MG calendar. It is the native deciduous shrub called Clethra 0r summersweet.  It is a great summer blooming shrub for sun to partial shade. It has either pink or white blooms. The flowers are very sweet smelling and do attract bees and butterflies.  It can be pruned as much as you want in late February since it blooms on the new growth.

Mystery plant B – mystery plant july 14.3is a semi-hardy perennial called plumbago. There are two plants with the common name plumbago–Plumbago auriculatawhich is this one, is actually evergreen in more southern climates. Before this past winter it did come back in my yard, but it was late flowering. It has beautiful blue flowers which do resemble phlox, which a few of you guessed. It does best in full sun.  The other “plumbago” is a hardy groundcover with dark blue flowers – Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, is also leadwort.

Mystery plant C ???????????????????????????????

is a perennial for partial shade called Astrantia 0r masterwort. We saw tons of it in Ireland a couple of years ago, and I have looked for it in nurseries here. I found it the week before I left for Scotland and have not planted it in the ground yet.  We saw a lot more of it all over Scotland. It should be hardy here and will be quite happy this summer, but intense heat can be difficult on it. I will let you know how it does.  I do know a few MG’s who have been growing it here for years. It comes in shades of pink, purple and white.

Monroe and Saline Counties

July 17, 2014

Yesterday I spent the day in the office preparing for upcoming events.  We also worked on some new technology we now have access to that we can access our office computer from home or on the road, and a new site to share all the photos and files with Julie, Holly and me.  It should help us tremendously, once we have passed the learning curve. I spent several hours trying to get everything to load properly at the office and at home, but I think I have it all set. The more I use it, the better I should get at it.

online computer work.

Today I went to the tri-county meeting of Monroe, Lee and Phillips county. It was hosted at the home of Larry and Judy Nash in Wheatley. They have a gorgeous garden and by looking at it today, you would not know that it was under water not much more than a week ago.  This part of Arkansas got flooded with over 12 inches of rain. Many fields have still not recovered and homes were lost too.  But at least this garden has rebounded and you would not know they had damage.

nash garden monroe co mg meeting.july17.08 nash garden monroe co mg meeting.july17.09 nash garden monroe co mg meeting.july17.13 blackeyed Susan july17. wheatley.1 judy nash2 nash garden monroe co mg meeting.july17.04

They set training dates for a new class for 2015 and to help promote it, they have come up with some creative solutions.

nash garden monroe co mg meeting.july17.18 nash garden monroe co mg meeting.july17.20

One is to do a series of seminars at Brinkley’s Fall Fest. I will be going up on Saturday, October 4 to be one of the speakers.  This is a small but mighty group. They had 100% participation today from Monroe County.   They had a short program from Arkansas One Call, and I did a program on summer plants.  Then we were treated to a fabulous catfish (and chicken) lunch prepared by Larry and crew.  It was delicious. We walked the garden and talked plants and then I was back on the road.

nash garden monroe co mg meeting.july17.14 nash garden monroe co mg meeting.july17.23 nash garden monroe co mg meeting.july17.24

I had light rain on the way back, but hard to believe it is July in Arkansas with a high in the upper 60′s!  It continued to rain tonight as I drove to Benton for our monthly planning session for the 2015 Arkansas State MG conference, and it is still raining as I write this!   We had a great turnout from committee chairman, and I think we have a firm footprint for the conference and things are coming together nicely.  The goal is to start a monthly newsletter in August to keep everyone informed of what is happening. Mark your calendar for June 4-6 in Saline County! You won’t want to miss it!

saline co planning july17.14.1 saline co planning july17.14.2 saline co planning july17.14.3

I am always impressed and appreciative of all the enthusiasm and energy given off by Arkansas Master Gardeners, and today we had two more great examples.  I think this quote kind of sums it up:

nash garden monroe co mg meeting.july17.06


Nashville Day 2 and My, what a difference a day makes!

July 15, 2014

From almost 100 degrees with high humidity to  horrendous thunderstorms and torrential rain to clear blue skies, low humidity and mild temperatures!  I like today a whole lot better than yesterday!  I started off the day catching up on the emails I missed from yesterday and doing a morning blog.  I felt completely off the grid last night with no cell phone or internet.  But imagine the businesses in town that were without from 1:15 p.m. – 10 p.m. No credit card machines, people couldn’t buy fishing licenses or permits–you need the internet, and even some of the automatic gas pumps couldn’t work–credit cards couldn’t be processed.  People were in an uproar.  It is amazing how dependent we are on the internet.

I had two more speaking engagements in Howard County today. On my way to the Howard County ECH building, I made a quick detour to see the demonstration gardens at the Howard Co. Farmers Market.  These gardens are managed by Master Gardeners and they looked great.

nashville demonstration organic garden.july15.02 nashville demonstration organic garden.july15.03 nashville demonstration organic garden.july15.04This garden is next to a 4-H demonstration garden. I would think the galvanized container might heat up a bit in hot weather.

nashville demonstration organic garden.july15.09 nashville demonstration organic garden.july15.10The Howard Co. Farmers Market is a great market, and they have joined forces with neighboring Hempstead Co. and are now holding markets in Hope, Washington and Nashville.

howard county Farmers market July 15.1 howard county Farmers market July 15.3Then I went to the EHC building.  The Extension Homemakers sponsored a meeting for the public on summer plants for the garden. They had a very nice crowd and they have a really nice facility to hold meetings. Many questions kept me there for a bit longer than I thought.

howard co ehc program july 15.1 howard co ehc program july 15.3Then it was off to their local Rotary Club meeting with another good group. Several from the first meeting, followed me to the second.  Again, many questions and lots of interaction on gardening.

howard co rotary.I came home with some great treats!  The beekeepers gave me honey, the EHC ladies gave me canned vegetables and the Rotary gave me a lovely necklace.  Dentist Glenn asked me to stop by his office before I left town for some famous Nashville peaches.  In addition to some fabulous peaches (I have already eaten one and more for dinner tonight), he gave me fresh shelled peas from his garden and a watermelon!  Quite the haul and very much appreciated.  The Howard County folks are quite hospitable and also interested in gardening!canned goods and honey howard co.2 peaches howard co. peas howard co.It was an easy drive home.  I checked out my garden, and one of the questions often asked today, was about pruning plants.  I told them it was too late to prune any spring bloomers since they would soon be setting flower buds.  I was surprised to see that I already have flower buds set on my tulip magnolia, camellias and dogwoods!  This mild weather and frequent rain has things speeding up.

magnolia soulangiana flower buds july 15.My ferns are also growing like gangbusters and loaded with spores–what they produce instead of seeds.

fern - autumn fern with spores. july 15.Two of my hardy hibiscus had spectacular red blooms today as well.  They like the moisture too!

hardy hibiscus july 15.1 hardy hibiscus july 15.2It was a very good day.  Now I am going to eat some of those peaches and peas!


Nashville, Arkansas and storms

July 15, 2014

I left Little Rock yesterday with dark clouds rolling in, but the further south I drove, the sunnier it became. The temperature was up to 98 degrees and it was humid. About 15 minutes from Nashville, the skies got dark and the temperature dropped to 84 degrees. ( I love that my new car posts the temperature!) The wind started really blowing and then the bottom fell out! I do not think I have ever driven in such a downpour. I was going 15 mph and my wipers were on high speed and it was tough seeing. The drains couldn’t handle the volume and in some parts the roads had 8 inches or more of water. I made it to my motel and luckily there was an overhang and I could get inside without getting drenched. I organized things in the car–no umbrella, but I did find a jacket with a hood. No point going to the room, or I would havegotten soaked. I don’t think an umbrella would have been much use. In addition to the storm something happened in Howard county yesterday afternoon to fiber optics so there was no cell phone service nor internet–all night!! It is back now.

I went to the community college for the program, not expecting much turnout, since the rain continued with branches flying. I sat in the car until it abated and went in. We had a full house by the time we started. These beekeepers are a hearty crew! It was a great meal and an interesting meeting. The skies were clear as we left, but still no cell phone or internet. I was lost without my email and couldn’t blog either! A few texts did go through, but not all.

Back on the home front, the house was without power from the storm there. Clay said only 60 were without power and we were one. He and Katie slept downstairs to be cooler. As of writing this, power has not yet been restored! At least I had air conditioning in Nashville!

This morning I speak to the Howard Co. EHC and the local rotary at noon before heading back. Hopefully the power will be on by then.


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