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Holidays

December 17, 2014
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The weather feels more like the holiday season than spring now, and rain is in the forecast. The hustle and bustle is everywhere, but no more evident than in traffic. It seems everywhere you turn there are more cars than normal, and with that, more wrecks. I have seen 2 or 3 daily, and not what anyone wants for the holidays. So be careful when you are out and about, especially if the rains do materialize.

We had a small bump in the road with an unexpected hospital stay for my Dad the past few days. But he went home this afternoon and life will return to normal again. Two nice things happened while he was in St. Vincents. Both occurred today a few hours before he was released. Two ladies came in and said he was chosen for a neck massage. Since his neck was hurting a bit, one started with a gentle soothing massage. They looked at me and said the caregiver can have one too, so I got a neck massage as well–and it was lovely. While they were in there a volunteer walked in with a care package loaded with goodies. Supposedly patients and volunteers received this from a generous benefactor. What a nice touch.

Then tonight I took Julie, Holly and Karen out for our holiday dinner. They do so much to help me, that this is a small way to say thanks. We had a wonderful meal at Capeo in NLR. The pictures aren’t great, but you make do with what you have! christmas dinner.20141

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I have some catching up to do at the office tomorrow and hope I can get enough done to be able to take off after that for the holidays. I do still have some gifts to buy and wrap, and a family party to get ready for this weekend. This holiday season seems to be the fastest on record. I can’t believe that we are only a week away from Christmas!

Moss Mt and WRI

December 15, 2014
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I got the house back in shape before heading out yesterday. First stop was Moss Mountain and P. Allen Smith’s annual holiday open house. I took the new staff chair in Pulaski County, Randy Forst. moss mountain dec14 (3)

moss mountain dec14 (4)

moss mountain dec14 (5) It was an almost spring-like day so we walked the gardens first. The decorations were lovely, and they had a nice crowd with local musicians to entertain. moss mountain dec14 (2)

moss mountain dec14 (6) We couldn’t stay long because I had to get to WRI on Petit Jean for our horticulture department retreat. wri.dec14 We spent last evening and today until 3 discussing the goals for the department. We had some lively discussions. It poured down during the night up there, but was clear and mild temperatures today. (I got 1/3 of an inch at my house as well).

Here are the answers to last weeks mystery plants, plus this weeks challenge:

Mystery plant A – mystery plant dec8.14 is the seed pod to Datura or the angel’s trumpet. This perennial plant is hardy statewide, but does die back to the ground. This is the purple flowering form, but the white one also sets seed pods, but minus the purple dots but with spikes.

Mystery plant B – mystery plant b dec8 is another perennial Anaphalis aka, Pearly everlasting. This plant blooms in late summer to early fall.

Mystery plant C – ??????????????????????????????? is Escallonia variety Newport Dwarf Escallonia or ‘Compacta’. It produces colorful red cluster of flowers on compact evergreen shrub. It has nice glossy green foliage. While its best flower production is in full sun I am not sure how well it will grow in the heat of our summer, I would try partial shade in our climate. I have also never seen it for sale in Arkansas, but Monrovia does carry it. No one got this one! This is only the second total stumper thus far!

New Mystery plants:

Mystery plant A – mystery plant A - dec15.14 is an evergreen shrub that was in bloom yesterday at Moss Mountain.

Mystery plant B – mystery plant B - dec 15.142

mystery plant B - dec 15.141 is a deciduous shrub–gorgeous berries on plants at WRI.

Mystery plant C – mystery plant C - dec 15. A perennial plant in bloom yesterday at Moss Mountain.

Good Luck!

A Great Party

December 14, 2014
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As many of you know, I love parties. I like to go to parties, but I also love to have a party, and tonight we had a great one! We had an excellent turnout and there was so much positive energy in the room–everyone eating, laughing, visiting and reconnecting! What fun. A lot of food was flying out of the house, but especially the stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, commonly called devils on horseback.HOLIDAY PARTY 2014 (4)

HOLIDAY PARTY 2014 (5) The mini pigs in a blanket and quinoa bites were also popular but to be honest, there wasn’t much food left.HOLIDAY PARTY 2014 (2) - Copy
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It has been a fun night, and a great time to reconnect to so many friends.

Tis the season!

December 12, 2014
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Perhaps I should have a party every month so I spend as much time cleaning house as I have this week, but then I wouldn’t be able to work as much either! Our annual holiday party is tomorrow night, so I have been cleaning, organizing and cooking this week. In addition, we have had some holiday events to go to, so it is a fun, but hectic time.

Late yesterday afternoon our supper club met in Hot Springs for a holiday adventure. One couple had to cancel due to illness, and they were missed. We first went to Garvan Gardens to walk the holiday lights. Quite impressive.
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garvan holiday lights 2014.25 If you haven’t been yet this year, it should be on your to-do list. They are open every evening until 9 p.m. except for Christmas day. The last opportunity to see them is Dec. 31, so don’t miss out. The inside decorations are pretty impressive too. The Christmas tree is elegantgarvan holiday lights 2014.02 and the poinsettia tree is always a hit. garvan holiday lights 2014.03
Then we checked into the Arlington and refreshed and walked to dinner at Central Park Fusion restaurant. It is not the most impressive looking restaurant from the outside, but the meal insidefusion dinner dec20146

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fusion dinner dec20142 was amazing! We sampled a multitude of appetizers–the ahi tuna tartare tacos were fabulous, and the duck confit eggrolls were a huge hit too. Actually, there wasn’t a single thing that any of us ate that we didn’t like. It was a great meal. Our servers were great and Martin used the wax off a bottle of wine to play Rudolph.

Afterwards we walked back to the hotel arlington hotel where Larry Womack and Jackie Beaumont were playing some great music. arlington dec 2014.3 So we sat, listened, and of course, sang along until almost the end of their set. It was a great day, in spite of housework all morning.

Everyone was on their own this morning as several were going back to work. Clay and I made an early morning visit to the Pancake House across the street to eat breakfast and visit with our friend Tina who moved back from NY and is now the manager of the restaurant. tina pancake house dec2014.1

tina pancake house dec2014.2 After a good breakfast and visit we were on the road back home. A light misty rain was falling until we hit Benton, but it is just dreary and overcast in Little Rock.

Now it is back to party preparations.

Planning and Partying

December 9, 2014
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Today was a full day at the office, writing columns, organizing events and the morning flew by. By afternoon, I had our monthly Arkansas Flower & Garden Show board meeting with a huge group in attendance. We got a lot accomplished and are moving into some new ideas for the 2016 show, slightly more than a year away, which will be our 25th Anniversary show. But we have the 2015 show to get through before we can move into 2016. If you would like to volunteer in February 2015, we still have open slots. We will be emailing the volunteer forms this week, and again after the new year. We have lots of places for you to work, so plan to come and share your talents. Your volunteer name tag will get you into the show the entire weekend, so it is quite a bargain. afgs day 232

Then tonight was a first of what surely will be an annual event. 20 of our good lady friends got together to share a meal and a laugh. Ladies holiday night out started off with holiday trivia–and the whole room was singing their answers. Then we had a bingo game, called by Chris.girls night out holiday party.201402

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We ate a wonderful meal and then the real fun began. girls night out holiday party.201403

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girls night out holiday party.201407Dirty Santa lasted a while as gifts were bartered and bargained for. Quite fun. Girlfriends are important in your life, and we are blessed to have many fun ones to laugh and cry with, eat a meal, play games and just spend time with. We had two generations present and everyone mixed and mingled. It was a delightful evening. People were trying to set the date for next year already!

A Full Monday

December 8, 2014
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Today was our annual state faculty conference, followed by a potluck. We had state updates and the annual awards program. Many deserving individuals and groups were recognized, but my favorite award went to one of my favorite people–Extension Graphic Artist- Chris Meux! He received a very well deserved new award Extension Employee of the Year! chris meux Sorry for the old picture, but it was all I could find. Chris is the go-to guy for everyone who wants a logo designed, posters, brochures, newsletters, MG Calendars, etc., etc. Basically anything you need graphics for, Chris can do it–and he always does it in a timely manner and with a smile on his face. I know he works overtime many days but his work ethic and attitude make him a winner every day. Congratulations to all award winners, but especially Chris–he was a bit overwhelmed with the standing ovation everyone gave him.

I grabbed some great food and ate it on the run as I headed down to Sheridan in Grant County. I had not been on the new bypass, so that makes the drive even quicker–and will be more so once the highway towards Pine Bluff is more than one lane for miles on end. Grant County has a new county agent who can’t wait to start a MG program–be still my heart!! Brad tested the waters today with an afternoon and evening event. While the turnout was small (to be expected with the date) those who did come were VERY interested in being Master Gardeners. They plan to train with Garland, Hot Spring, Montgomery and Saline county starting in January–thus we had to have a meeting in December. I think they are off to a great start.

I had time to kill between the afternoon and evening events so I decided to run some errands and take a few pictures. The courthouse is elegant (and even more so tonight with lights). grant county courthouse dec.2014.1

grant county courthouse dec.2014.4 But I could tell they needed MGs when I walked up and saw their crape myrtles! grant county courthouse dec.2014.2 Not only horribly pruned, but this early! There is no buffer for winter weather. The highway department has pruned all the crapes along I-630 as well already. Wait until late February and know what you are doing. I think we need a bumper sticker saying Death to Crape Murder!

I saw a small store across the square that had holiday decorations and went inside. Oh my! It was a good thing Julie wasn’t with me, or we would probably still be there. Gallery 118 looks small from the outside but was packed full of every imaginable Christmas decoration. As if I need any more, I bought a sack full!! Cute, stuff. decorations gallery118.

decorations

holiday decor gallery118

It was a beautiful day with bright sunlight. While most plants are going dormant, look at these lilacs from Saline County that are still blooming, and according to their owner, opening more each day. ???????????????????????????????

The weather is supposed to be sunny all week.

Here are your mystery plant challenges for the week:

Mystery plant A – mystery plant dec8.14 is a seed pod from a perennial that someone brought to MG training last week.

Mystery plant B – mystery plant b dec8 is a perennial

Mystery plant C -??????????????????????????????? is a small shrub.

Good Luck! The last two were plants from Scotland!

A beautiful Saturday

December 6, 2014
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Today was a welcome relief from the past few dreary wet days. The sun was shining and if you were in the sun, it was quite nice out. I ran a lot of errands this morning, then went to the Arkansas Craft Show Christmas Showcase at the Statehouse Convention Center with my friend. They had a lot of jewelry, pottery, soaps, baskets, wood furniture and crafts, as well as paintings and some glass. It is an annual event and one worth going to see. It is open tomorrow from 10- 4 and is well worth the trip. ark craft show.

ark craft showcase

ark craft
Afterwards I went to the gym with my daughter, got some stuff done around the house and then got ready for the annual Turney party in Faulkner County. They always have great food and friends, along with a huge fire outdoors and then topped off with fireworks. I guess you never get too old to enjoy them. turney party.2014.3turney party.2014.5

Yesterday at the grocery store we had something new in the produce section. They had created their own cranberry bog and had the fresh cranberries floating in water complete with a scoop to scoop out what you wanted to buy. Of course, I had to do it and bought a bag full! I have always wanted to see a fresh cranberry bog, so can I now say I have?!
fresh cranberries.20141

fresh cranberries.20142

Here are the answers to your mystery plant challenges:
Mystery plant A – mystery plant A - dec 1.2014 is Abies delavayi or Chinese Fir. We found this tree in Scotland and were all enamored with the blue cones. Native to India and rated for zone 7, it supposedly would survive here, but it prefers a very wet climate, with cool summers and cold winters, so I would be surprised if it would thrive in Arkansas.

Mystery plant Bmystery plant b dec1.2014. is a new tropical plant for the US with long pink hanging flower sprays with canopies of large leaves that is supposedly going to take the plant world by storm. Medinilla (med-in-NIL-uh)magnifica (mag-NIH-fee-kuh)commonly known as Philippine Orchid or Rose Grape. I have never seen it in the US. I took this picture at the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. It was a stunning plant.

Mystery Plant C – mystery plant c dec1.2014 is Allium cernum or Nodding Onion. Nodding wild onion (cernuum in Latin means nodding) is a Missouri native plant which occurs primarily in rocky soils on , bluff edges, open woods and slopes in the Ozark region of the State. Plants typically grow 12-18 inches tall. Features clumps of flat, narrow, grass-like leaves and tiny bell-shaped, pink to lilac pink flowers which appear in loose, nodding clusters rising slightly above the foliage.

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