It was a gorgeous day in Benton County and 7 busses loaded up and went on garden tours this morning. One broke down at the last stop, but we got them picked up in time for lunch. We made do with 6 busses this afternoon.
While half the group was out touring gardens, the other half were in concurrent educational sessions. Everyone met back together for lunch, and to hear from the mayor, then it was a repeat of the same tours and seminars in the afternoon.
People could shop until 5, then take a quick rest before our dinner and keynote address by Scott Eccleston. Scott is the landscape architect at Crystal Bridges, and he did an amazing job.
Then we recognized all the Benton County committee chairman for all their hard work and dedication. Tomorrow with the lights up, we need all the Benton County volunteers to be seen! They have really done Benton County and the Arkansas Master Gardener program proud!
Tomorrow is only a half day with awards and final keynote by P. Allen Smith. Then we load up to head home.
It has been a full but productive day.
The busses started loading at 10 am and continued all day until 6 going to many featured stops around town.
They all made it back for frenzied bidding at the silent auction and more shopping at the trade show.
Then our county 76 committee stayed until 9 to allow folks to pick up their items.
Ask me some time about our womens tshirt sales!!
Off to bed now. I walked almost 8 miles today (7 yesterday)! Tomorrow is another big day.
I arrived with a loaded car at 10:15 am to Benton County and there were already Master Gardeners here waiting to register for the preconference tour. Our Benton County volunteers were here to assist and we got the bus loaded and on their way for the tour.
From all reports, they had a wonderful time and learned a lot.
We could not get in to set up in the convention center, so we ran to get some lunch and run a few errands. About 3:00 the skies opened up and it poured down. It finally stopped about 4;15. We got the trade show layed with visqueen with the help of local 4-Hers.
The room looked massive without all the vendors, but once they started arriving, the room got smaller. We have great plants, garden gadgets, and all things garden related. The trade show is only open to MGs on Thursday, but is open to the public alll day Friday and Saturday until noon.
First I need to say a big Happy Birthday to my son who is 27 years old today! We had to celebrate his birthday last night since I am in Rogers today through Saturday. We went to the new Chuy’s and it was packed! I forgot to take a picture! Great meal, but a bit loud. Half our table couldn’t hear a thing that was being said.
Mystery Plants 5 & 6 stumped you all! Only Ann Wood from White County got them correct. Mystery plant 5 Serissa foetida a small evergreen shrub that I have been growing in my front yard for 10 years or more in almost total shade. I cannot begin to tell you where I found it. I bought three originally, two pink and a white, but the white one (which is more common) seems to have disappeared. It should be hardy across the state in a shady spot. It blooms with these tiny flowers in May and June, but has pretty delicate white bordered leaves year-round.
Mystery plant 6 is Sinocalycanthus chinensis or Chinese sweet shrub, or Chineses wax shrub. It is the Chinese version of our sweet shrub or Carolina allspice. I learned it as Sinocalycanthus–like a calycanthus, but botanists have now moved it into the Calycanthus genus, so it is Calycanthus chinensis today, although some people and websites are like me and keep it as Sino. I have had it for 6 or more years and it is 10 feet tall in the shade. A deciduous large shrub, it has beautiful waxy flowers for about 4-6 weeks in May to early June, followed by a woody seed capsule. It pretty much takes care of itself. There is another one in Garvan Gardens near the dog drinking fountain.
My car is loaded and I leave in a few minutes for Rogers, for our state MG conference. In preparation, I tried to get as many of the plants I have been buying planted so they would survive my absence. My family tries to keep up, but there is a lot to do, and plants aren’t high on their list of priorities. The new super soil I bought and have filled many of the beds with is dark black in color, so it is really absorbing the heat and drying out fast. I needed to mulch the vegetable garden in particular, but I don’t like the wood mulch there–since I want to work it in later. I normally shred leaves, but just didn’t have time. I called up Farmers Association to see if they had any bagged rice hulls. They did. So I made a quick run there yesterday to buy a bag or two. I have only seen them delivered in a load, never bagged, so wasn’t sure of the size. They are light as air and blow easily. They don’t have the bags in the store to see, you order and pay and then they load your car. I saw a bag of pecan shells, and asked if the rice hulls were about the same size. He said yes, so I thought, well I probably need 3 bags, since they are so light. WRONG! I got three 50 pound bags of COMPRESSED rice hulls.
You can’t just open the bag, and pour, you have to scrape them out to loosen them. I got home with an hour to spare before dinner, so I changed clothes, and worked hard. I got the vegetable gardens mulched and a few other plants, but then it was time to clean up and go. The dust from the rice hulls had my allergies crazy! I finished up with a few more loads when I got home and then watered to keep it in place. I only used one bag, so two sit in the back of my suburban until my return.
See many of you in Rogers later today and tomorrow!
I have been getting so many good comments and activity with the Mystery plant quiz, so here are two new plants. Both are shrubs that are growing in my yard in pretty heavy shade.
Plant 5 is evergreen and is a low growing shrub. Flowers can be pink or white, with the white being more common.
It was a busy weekend and a glorious one! Weather could not have been better. Friday was our final day to get web migration sent, so there was a flurry of activity in our office. I also had a 100 year birthday planning event for CES and final touches for state MG conference which kicks off Wednesday with a pre-tour. Friday night I went to another pampered chef party and then had dinner with friends before calling it an early night. I left bright and early Saturday for the Faulkner County MG plant sale. They started selling at 6:30 a.m.–I didn’t get there until 7:20. They were in a huge church parking lot next door to the county extension office and had things very well organized. If you were shopping, you could place your plants in one of the many circled holding areas in the parking lot and when you finally finished, a MG wrote up your order, you went and paid and they carried it to your car in one of the myriad of wagons, wheel barrows,etc they brought for that purpose. One enterprising woman was dragging her own box!
they had an excellent crowd. It was a busy weekend at the church with the plant sale on one side and a garage sale in the middle and the Faulkner Co Farmers Market on the other side. Lots of good vegetables, fabulous home grown strawberries and meats and cheeses were available. This is their temporary site for this season.
I made it home after a few more plant stops and then planted some pots at my Dads house before grocery shopping then finally gardening at home. There were tons of plants at all the local grocery stores and plant outlets, gearing up for Mother’s Day. One that was quite unique was an Italian heather.
Today I was up and at it early. Another 15 bags of mulch were spread–I could use hundreds! and I got over half of my plants planted that I have been buying or getting through the mail. Clay and Katie went on an early morning flower run for Mother’s Day and I got beautiful flowers from Katie and a hydrangea from Clay. He thought is was replacing the CAMELLIA he damaged at Christmas. They both have pink flowers but that is about as far as the similarity goes–but it was the thought that counts–and he helped plant it! You would think 28 plus years of marriage that some of the horticulture stuff might rub off, but not so. His pat answer at the office when they ask him questions is round up and dursban. I spent the day in the garden and it has been a wonderful day, but I think I need some Advil now. Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there!! And lets hope this weather holds for the state conference.
We didn’t have a lot of correct guesses for Mystery Plant 3, but we did have some who fired back within minutes of the post. The plant is Sweet Woodruff – Galium odoratum. It is a great groundcover or accent plant in shady, well drained areas.
The second plant was correctly identified by many of you. Malvaviscus arboreus commonly called Turk’s Cap, Turks Turban or some called it a hardy hibiscus. While it is in the hibiscus family, it is not the plant we typically associate with the name Hardy Hibiscus. It is an old-fashioned perennial that does well in full sun to partial shade. It normally blooms in late summer through fall and hummingbirds and butterflies love it. I get many plant samples every year asking for identification. It is a great pass-along plant, since it can spread over time. While orange is the most common color, there is a pink variety as well.
Thanks for all the responses. If we do two plants a week, you should hopefully learn 100 new plants–or get refreshers on them!
I am pooped! It was a full day of learning, sharing and touring out at P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain. The day started early with breakfast, where we got to eat some of the eggs from the farm. Allen is as passionate (or more so) about his heritage poultry as he is plants. Then we walked up to the vegetable garden for a demonstration and discussion with Troy Built products. They have a whole line of products besides tillers, but they have some unique features. Their lawn mower has a spot for you to hook up the garden hose to clean the undercarriage with! They also have a gadget that will automatically start any of their pieces of equipment without having to pull the cord. I have always struggled with pulling the starter on mowers and blowers, so this impressed me to no end!
After showing us the products, people got to try them out. One lucky person will win one later this week.
Then we went to hear from Bonnie Plants. Bonnie provides most of the vegetable and herb plants at our local nurseries and garden centers and they have a wide range of plants to choose from. One of the latest trends is growing plants in a straw bale. One of their representatives demonstrated how to season the straw bale to make it ready for planting, and then did a planting demonstration. We then had a scavenger hunt in the garden to scan in the UPC code on some of their hidden signs. 5 people could win, and yours truly won one! I downloaded the ap minutes before the competition started and it was the first time I have scanned in a UPC code from my phone. This is something that is becoming more common. If a plant label has a UPC code and you have the AP, you can get loads of information about the plant from the code right on your phone or I pad. The AP was free, and quite interesting.
We had the folks from Berry Nursery come talk to us about their plants. They are one of the largest plant growers in Tallaqua, Oklahoma, and sell a wide range of plants, from edibles –blueberries and blackberries, as well as shrubs, perennials, roses and now tropicals. They brought a wide range of the plants they sell and had us practice designing with them.
We then went back to the Laguna Pond folks to see how the pond was progressing before heading to lunch. During lunch we learned about a seed organization system which would be a god-send for anyone who saves and stores their garden seeds.
Afterwards we went back outside to hear from the Jobes Organic folks about their fertilizer lines. They have more to offer than just the nutrients, with added bacteria, mycorrhiza, and Archaea – a microorganism that helps plants absorb nutrients and grow better. They learned about this archaea from research being done with the product that cleaned up oil spills. Very interesting. By now, we were outside in full sun and it got HOT. We were drinking lots of water, but everyone tried to find shade as quickly as possible.
After this, we went on to hear from the Knockout/Drift rose people. The question came up about rose rosette, and I learned something quite interesting. They discovered that the mite that spreads the virus actually overwinters in the top of the rose bushes. Annual pruning in late February should cut out the mites along with the parts you are pruning off, and could potentially cut down on the problem. Normally, we have been recommending only pruning knock out roses by 1/3, but their recommendation was to take them back annually to twelve inches. If you think back to last year, we had a tremendous amount of rose rosette. Our lack of winter in 2012 had the roses blooming in late February, so many folks did not prune their roses–particularly Knockouts. This could be why we had more damage! Very interesting.
Allen and staff were gracious hosts, and we learned a lot from what we saw and did, but also in sharing with each other. It was a FULL two days–according to my Fit Bit, we walked 4 miles today. That coupled with the sun and warmer temperatures have done me in–I am now off to bed!
PS: For all you Master Gardeners reading this, this is just a taste of what you will get to see for our 25th Birthday Celebration, October 14 when we head to Moss Mountain. You will also get to hear Allen next week at our state MG Conference.