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We are ready!

April 15, 2014
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Today’s weather made up for yesterday. I hope the rest of you dodged the freezing bullet too. It was only 34 this morning! Can you believe how cold it got after our 80 plus days last week?! They say we have another chance tonight or in the morning for frost, so keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen. The wind is not near as strong now as it was last night.

I think I am ready. Today was a whirlwind of activity. Everything should be good to go for state conference, and all columns are sent in. All laundry is done, house is clean, house stocked with groceries, lists for everyone who has a part in housesitting, dogsitting and plant sitting, and I got my hair cut and colored. Plants are watered, mulched and fertilized–sprinklers standing by and ready. I edged and mowed, and tonight we ate broccoli, spinach and green onions from the garden–along with leftover shrimp and steak. my garden april35

my garden april36

I will probably miss a few blooms, but the cool weather has helped the flowers last so nicely. My southern rhododendron has its first (and only) bloom opening.my garden april25 my garden april38 It is a pretty spring, in spite of the weather.

So the bags are sitting at the door waiting on tomorrow. We will lose a day in transit so will arrive in France on April 17. I hope to be able to blog from the travels, so Bonsoir, À la prochaine!

TV at Garvan and a FREEZE warning!!

April 14, 2014
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It rained like a son-of-a-gun, dropping almost 4 inches in my yard and 5 or more in other areas of central Arkansas. The flowers were a bit droopy this morning trying to recover from the onslaught.garvan april 14.18 provided we don’t have a freeze tonight!! I cannot believe it is as cold as it is, and getting colder. One day I have my air conditioning on, people are wearing shorts and sandles, and today we had on coats, gloves and I am about to have a fire in the fireplace. What a rollercoaster ride this winter/spring has been!

We taped tv spots this morning at Garvan Gardens. It started out cool, and got downright nippy before we were through. We seriously did put on our gloves in between takes. I hated to have on a jacket since some of these spots will air in May, but it was cold. Garvan looks great. The cool weather has been a boon for the tulips and the late ones are still in prime condition. garvan april 14.16

garvan april 14.17 The dogwoods and azaleas are also in full bloom, garvan april 14.02

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garvan april 14.10 along with viburnums, buckeye, hawthornes and much more. In spite of the gloomy rain and cold it was delightful.

We ended in the greenhouse to do a spot on the Mystic Creatures exhibit which will open June 1 and run until August 31 this summer. These are just the pieces of the puzzles garvan april 14.19

garvan april 14.20

garvan april 14.23. You will have to wait until June to see them put together in the form of a sea serpent, big foot and much more. We taped today without Bob’s assistance, so Sherre and James had to do it all. garvan april 14.24

After taping it was back to the office to wrap up lose ends. I have now officially written all columns that were due and can concentrate on packing and final preperations.

Let’s hope we have a good wind tonight to keep the temperatures from getting too low. Most of what I have in the garden should be ok, unless it gets really cold! Can we hope this is the end?

Mystery plants, both old and new

April 13, 2014
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As many of you know I am in the process of preparing to be gone for two weeks. This doesn’t just involve packing–which it does, but it also means getting the house ready for the house sitters and dogs–buying food–for people and dogs, cleaning and yard work, it also means writing all the columns I do ahead of schedule and trying to wrap up work items on state conference, new training, advanced training and more. I had a total of 8 columns to get done and I have sent 4 and am halfway through with 2 more, and we have a conference call scheduled for Monday about the state conference after I tape TV, so it is getting close. I have lists that I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about. It has also been glorious weather to be outside, so I have done a little yard work. We got our sprinkler system and my Dad’s turned on yesterday and I watered all cycles and reset the thing for this season. My gardens are really looking good with so much in bloom! brunnera silver heart

??????????????????????????????? My vegetable garden is also great. I am picking spinach, lettuce, and broccoli now. spinach

Before I get caught up in my to-do list, I thought I would give you the answers for last weeks mystery plants and give you this weeks.

Mystery plant A – ??????????????????????????????? This plant stumped many of you. The main guess was fothergilla–which it does slightly resemble, but it is Alabama Snow wreath – Neviusia alabamensis (nev-i-U-si-a al-a-BAM-en-sis)The genus name for Alabama snow wreath honors Reverend Ruben Denton Nevius who first discovered this plant growing near Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1858. This member of the rose family, is an obscure genus which has no close American relative. The fact that its flowers are without petals sets it apart. Botanists consider N. alabamensis a relic species with a greatly reduced geographical range, rather than a true endemic of recent origin. Within the rose family, Neviusia is placed in the tribe Kerriae, which it shares with the Asian native Kerria japonica (yellow rose of Texas). This is a rounded, suckering, deciduous shrub that grows to 3-6’ tall and as wide with erect stems that arch gracefully with age. Apetalous flowers bloom in clusters (cymes) of 3-8 flowers each in April-May. Each flower consists of a fluffy clump of white stamens surrounded by 5 spreading, greenish-white, leaf-like sepals. Bark on mature stems exfoliates.

Mystery plant B – mystery plant b april.2 is creeping speedwell, or Veronica umbrosa (ver-ON-ih-kah um-BRO-sah).
This tough, versatile perennial plant requires little maintenance. It will grow in full sun or light shade, and attracts butterflies with a low blanket of sky blue flowers all spring and then sporadically in the summer. Small, dark green leaves turn glossy burgundy in winter.

Mystery plant C – mystery plant tree.april (1) is the Chinese redbud – Cercis chinensis. This tree will grow to as much as 50′ tall in its native habitat in China, but here it is grown as a densely branched, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree to 8-15′ tall. This improved variety ‘Avondale’ is literally covered in clusters of tiny, rose-purple, pea-like flowers bloom on the stems and branches for 2-3 weeks in early spring before the foliage emerges. Rounded, leathery, heart-shaped green leaves (to 5″ long) are attractive during the growing season. At their best, leaves will turn a respectable yellow in fall.

Great job and now here are 3 new challenges:

Mystery plant A – mystery plant a april is a perennial

Mystery plant B – mystery plant april 14.1

mystery plant april 14.3 is a deciduous shrub.

Mystery plant C – ??????????????????????????????? is another moderate perennial for us.

Good Luck!

Cross County, wisteria, and baseball

April 10, 2014
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I left Little Rock bright and early to get to Wynne by a 9:00 start. They had an excellent crowd for their annual cross county event1

cross county event2

cross county event4

cross county event6 Planting Your Bloomers seminar. I spoke on pruning and gardening in a changing environment, while Lucinda Reynolds did the balance of nature and Kim Pittcock spoke on ornamental grasses.

During the lunch break a few of us went to see a giant wisteria plant that is totally encasing some pine trees. giant wisteria1

giant wisteria5

giant wisteria7

giant wisteria6 The vines were loaded with flower buds so I am sure it will be spectacular in bloom, but it is killing the trees it is on. Wisteria is a tough, tenacious vine that needs to be relegated to a non-living structure of a fence, arbor or trellis. Allowed to grow on trees it will girdle and kill them.

It was a gorgeous day and made for an easy drive, but it would have been a great day to be out in the garden. I made it home and our family went to the opening home game of the Arkansas Travelers at Dickie Stephens park. travelers4 There are two new mascots this year. travelers3

travelers1 It was a beautiful night to enjoy baseball. We ran into some friends and one did the spinning baseball bat trick. Rory won, although he did get a bit dizzy. ???????????????????????????????

rory2

It was a fun evening. We left before the game was officially over, but the Travelers were ahead by 1 run. Not sure how it will end.

A glorious day

April 9, 2014
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While it was still a tad cool this morning, it turned into a gorgeous day. Not a cloud in the sky and low humidity with mild temperatures. It was tough having to work inside. I went from meeting to meeting to meeting today. We discussed the online MG training, the rice expo, state conference, secretarial duties, and County 76. I got handouts ready for tomorrow, one column done, but need to do 7 more before I leave town next week. I have a list of to do’s and am gradually working through them.

We found ticks on two of our dogs this weekend–one was my son’s who doesn’t live with us, but two on one of ours. We did not have great success in trying to remove them so I treated them and killed the ticks, and prevented more plus fleas. My son took his dog in this morning and my goal was to take our other one to have them checked out and bring both dogs home. The vet found 4 dead ticks on Kyle’s Trips, and I made it in with Skooter. I showed her where the ticks were and we found out why Skooter was so incensed that we were messing with him–they weren’t ticks, but his nipples!! I guess I need new glasses:)~ I think it is sort of like a case of head lice–when you hear someone has them, you start scratching, even though you never had them. When we found the ticks of Trips, we started seeing them everywhere. Good news, Skooter was healthy and tick free! But the word is that ticks are already out in large numbers so treat your animals and check yourself if you are outside.

I got to look at my garden late today. The deciduous azalea is lovely and the evergreen ones are about to burst.???????????????????????????????

IMG_7769

My Bloomerang lilac is covered in small bloomsIMG_7765

IMG_7766 and the Kerria looks lovely. IMG_7759

IMG_7761
I have blooms on the woodland poppy IMG_7772 and one of the heucheras IMG_7774 and also my loropetalum IMG_7780. I also have buds about to pop on my rhododendronIMG_7762
Remember the mystery plant from last week–the aucuba with red berries–here are the female blooms. IMG_7770

IMG_7771
Spring is here and changes are happening daily in the garden. Take some time to walk your yard, regardless of the time. You may be surprised at what you see.

Retreat and MG training

April 8, 2014
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It has been a few years since we had an executive MG team retreat, county 76 retreat3and it was amazing at what we accomplished. Our officers and program chairs met at the Arkansas 4-H center yesterday after lunch and worked until about 9:00 p.m. stopping only to eat dinner, and then we were back at it again today after breakfast, up through lunch (I had to skip lunch to get to Russellville and MG training). county 76 retreat1

county 76 retreat2
Our normal quarterly meetings are held at the state office and go from 10- 3, but having the extra time and a focus was really nice. It is also nice to get to know each other a bit more through an extended visit. I love the Arkansas MG program and think it is one of the best volunteer organizations in the country, but it is even more awe-inspiring to see the passion and dedication of our volunteers and how committed they are to making a great program even better. I think statewide we can see the impact of what happened the past few days. Thank you Arkansas Master Gardeners!

It was also nice to be back at the Arkansas 4-H Center again. IMG_7748 We used to hold so many events there and it has been awhile since I was out there. Great facilities and such good people!

Then I left in a light drizzle to head to Russellville for their MG training. I went in and out of light rain to heavy rain and ended with bright sunshine. It was a nice group of volunteers and this was day one of training. pope county1

pope county2 I think I have overworked my vocal cords in recent days and I was worried that speaking for 3 + hours might be tough, but I did not lose my voice and made it through with many questions answered. As we ended we went outside the county office to tour their raised bed vegetable project. pope county4

pope county5 This sanctioned project is a joint venture between MGs and the juvenile detention group. Each week teens come and work the gardens with MGs and share in the produce. It has been highly successful. One great success story is that last year, one of the young people in the program who had been kicked out of multiple schools, connected with a MG who helped tutor. Surrepticiously they found out he couldn’t read and would rather have been kicked out of school for fighting instead of people learning he couldn’t read. They connected him with a tutor and he went on to get his GED and is a reader!! Gardening is not just about growing plants but growing and nurturing people too! Who knows what a difference you are making in one persons life. Every day I feel blessed to work with such great volunteers and the impact you are making statewide is impressive!

A new week and plant challenge

April 7, 2014
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Yesterday was gloomy and cold, but I did get the yard mowed and some clean up done before the rain started. We got about a half inch so the plants are growing. This cool weather has kept the bulbs in bloom so well. I need to find out what these tulips are, they are changing colors daily. tulips color changing012

tulips color changing013

Last night we went to dinner with friends and had an amazing meal veg medly and discussed our upcoming vacation to France. Clay and I are going with 3 other couples to the Canal d’Midi in the south of France leaving next week. We will pilot a 4 bedroom rented houseboat and have some unique adventures. It should be wonderful. I hope to blog daily, but have no idea about internet service–but stay tuned.

For now, I am trying to wrap up all lose ends, write columns, speak and get the yard ready. I am heading now to the Arkansas 4-H center for our County 76 board retreat. It ends tomorrow at lunch and then I head to Russellville for MG training there.

Here are your mystery plant challenges for the week.

Mystery plant A: ???????????????????????????????

??????????????????????????????? is a deciduous shrub.

Mystery plant B: mystery plant b april.1

mystery plant b april.2 is a perennial

Mystery plant C – is a small deciduous tree or large shrub mystery plant tree.april (1)

mystery plant tree.april (2)

Good Luck!

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