I am having some issues with the blog app on the iPad, so I hope this and the pictures come through today. I will have to do a recap blog tomorrow when I get to my computer, because the photos are not wanting to load!!
I drove up to Fayetteville this morning and had a meeting on campus. Parking was horrendous since there was even more traffic trying to get ready for the football game tomorrow. I met at the poultry science center, which is quite nice.
Then after lunch I stopped in at Westwood Gardens to see what fall plants they have. They have an outstanding pumpkin display and some great fall color choices.
Then I went to the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks. These gardens get better each time I come and I took loads of pictures. Then I had the pleasure of staying with my good friends Elaine and Spencer and seeing their new house. A beautiful home and gardens. It was great getting to visit with them and catch up. I will repost tomorrow and share pictures then.
Tomorrow morning I speak at the flower and nature society meeting at the NW Technical Institute at 9:30, then I will head home.
I did a walk through of my garden this morning and found more problems. The young hardy hibiscus has been turned to lace by the mallow sawfly. Look at the two larvae feeding on the top.
I found some larvae had emerged from a few of the sesame seed pods. I cleaned the pods off the stalks and sorted them to dry. Not sure what the caterpillar is, but I think it is amazing that they find the specific plant they want to feed on in a garden full of plants.
Then it was off to Ft. Smith and the River Valley MG monthly meeting. They meet on the UA Ft. Smith campus and the landscaping is pretty impressive. The sunpatiens were huge and paired with the fan flower and ornamental peppers.
Then I went inside to meet with the MGs. They are very organized and it was their first meeting of their new officer year. Great turnout and excellent enthusiasm. They are doing a lot and listening to all their project reports, it was quite impressive. A great group of volunteers.
It was my last day in the office for awhile, so I had to make it count. I finished up two powerpoints and handouts to accompany them for my meeting tomorrow night in Ft. Smith at their monthly MG meeting, and for the program for the Flower, Garden and Nature Society program Saturday morning. Their meeting begins at 9:30 followed by a short meeting and then program at 10:00. They meet at the Northwest Technical Institute, 709 S Old Missouri Rd. in Springdale. My topic is Growing and Overwintering Tropical Plants in NW Arkansas. The program is open to the public, so come join us.
Then Julie and I met with Stephen to work on the website and how we can make things better. After that, it was work on MG Appreciation at Garvan, MG Facebook page, Flower & Garden Show, columns, and leadership. Before we knew it, it was after 4:30. Time does fly when you are busy.
It is not dreadfully hot, but it is still warm, and dry. We keep getting teased that we are about to have a storm, with dark, gray clouds, but then it passes without any rain. I watered when I got home and then started on dinner. We are a big soup family, and I had a soup request for dinner. I still have loads of my carrots left, and they are storing beautifully. I think it is amazing how long produce lasts when you pick it yourself, so I decided to make carrot soup. The family was not too thrilled with the suggestion, but they were amazed by the results, and loved it! I added some of my spicy peppers, garlic, onions, shallots and herbs and cooked it all down in some chicken stock and water, then pureed it with my stick blender. Instead of adding heavy cream, I added a little plain Greek yogurt. Healthy and delicious!
Soup and a left-over empanada, and we had a great meal. Not only did we like it, it will go into our soup rotation, which we normally have once a week when it gets cool.
It was getting a tad dark when I walked the garden, but I still have a lot of color in my garden. I have loads of blooms on the Jubilation gardenias and more buds to open. The SunPatiens haven’t stopped either–try these next season if you didn’t this year. The lantana also look amazing in shades of deep red and orange. I also love the euphorbias with their airy white flowers. Diamond Frost was the first one, but there are several other varieties now too. They love the heat and have not stopped blooming all summer. This really sets off the pentas and the tuberous begonias which have lasted the longest ever in my garden.
Even though the summer color is doing beautifully, we are beginning to see signs of fall. I have asters blooming, beautyberry is turning and we are beginning to see some fall color in trees and shrubs. I have some nandina and dogwood beginning to turn.
As of last night, I have officially written 1000 posts in this blog. When it started several years ago, it was a test to see if anybody would read it, and it has proven to be a good thing. We have well over 1000 folks who either get it via email or facebook daily (or when I post), and that doesn’t count those who just come visit. I try to share what is happening in Arkansas in the world of gardening, but also share what I am doing in my job as a state horticulture specialist. When I first started the blog I had a few folks who asked me if I started doing more so I could have something to write about or if that is how much I actually did every week! One of the best things the blog does is show what we do in Extension. Extension has been my only job since I graduated from college, and I could not have asked for a better career. It fits me to a tee! I love working with people and sharing my passion for horticulture. There is not a better group of people than gardeners, and the Arkansas Master Gardeners are the cream of the crop. Thanks for being with me on the journey.
My late season vegetable garden is still producing peppers, tomatoes and plenty of eggplants.
I see eggplant parmesan in my near future! I plan to redo the gardens next week and start getting serious about fall and winter crops.
This afternoon was our regular board meeting of the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show. The 2015 show is Feb 20-22 at the Statehouse Convention Center. You don’t want to miss it. We met at the Federal Reserve Bank downtown, some classy digs of Julie Kerr.
Then tonight I repurposed last nights grilled turkey cutlets into empanadas by adding fresh peppers(hot and mild) and tomatoes from the garden, plus onions, fresh corn, garlic and some black beans plus plenty of fresh herbs. They were delicious!
No one even knew they were eating leftovers!
I got this wonderful picture today from a reader in Hot Springs Village.
It is a species of hornworm caterpillar and one of its favorite plants is a penta, which is what it is feeding on in this photo.
I also visited with Paul Shell from the State Plant Board last week. He had found a patch of the ornamental blood grass which had converted to the highly invasive cogon grass. They got it dug up out of the landscape, but this is really bad news. Japanese blood grass has been on the banned plant list for Arkansas, along with water hyacinths and purple loosestrife.
Here are the answers to last weeks mystery challenge, and this weeks challenge.
Mystery plant B – is another annual. This is Castor bean– Ricinus communis. Castor bean is the source of castor oil and the poisonous ricin. Many gardeners plant castor bean around their vegetable garden to deter gophers and moles. The entire plant is poisonous.
New plants for the week:
Today was a gorgeous day to celebrate my father’s 81st birthday. My sister drove in from Dallas and we all went out to eat Mexican food for dinner. The restaurant turned out en masse to serenade him. It was a fine meal with a great family.
We have always been fortunate to live near my parents, so we have been lucky to be able to see them weekly. My kids only had one set of grandparents from the beginning, so they loved spending time with them. Mom passed away in 2006 and we still miss her. My sister lives a short day drive away and has also been around a great deal. This time work prevented her kids from coming, but the sense of family has always been important in our lives, and today was a great way to spend it with a great father! It is the first time we have all gone out together in a while, and we were quite thankful that he felt up to going out! After dinner we went back to his house to open presents and visit, and of course, take more pictures!
It did warm up a bit today, and I did do a little watering of my containers and vegetables. I pulled some weeds and harvested all the sesame seeds today. Now they need to dry before I get the pods open.
I also found an interesting bug in my pineapple sage. He doesn’t seem to be eating anything, but not sure what he is. Hopefully John Hopkins can tell me tomorrow.
I love the cool weather. We slept with the windows open last night and it was delightful! Let’s hope the cool weather stays, but I could use a little more rain.
I wish I could say I knew all 3000 plus Master Gardeners in the state by name, but alas, that is not true. I recognize most and I also personally know many that I also consider dear friends. Phyllis and Steve Smith from Izard county rank up there as friends. They do a lot for Izard county and are just really nice people! I had a delightful time with them at their home last night and they are just gracious folks.
I was equally impressed by what a cohesive group the Izard County Master Gardeners have become. They worked together like a well oiled machine today with an outstanding program. They had tons of food for breakfast and breaks, handouts and booths, door prizes and raffle items. They put together a class act, and I am impressed. We arrived early this morning and there were many of the host group waiting for the doors to open to be ready for the arrival of the public. It was delightfully chilly outside, and the day just got better, with clear skies and cool temps. Fall has arrived.
I made it home by late afternoon and the house was clean and dinner was cooking. We had friends over for dinner, and I just came along and enjoyed. Clay and Katie had it all ready. The dinner was an amazing barbeque brisket with fixings. A good time was had by all.
Tomorrow will be more celebrations and fun with family. My Dad turns 81! A big weekend.