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Preparing for Leadership

September 25, 2017

Our planning committee has worked feverishly planning a wonderful leadership program which begins tomorrow.  Today, several of the committee members came to put together final packets and get ready for the day.     We also had silent auction items coming in.   The committee finished their tasks, and the board members continued to meet.  Linda did a great job leading the meeting. 

We have a very full day tomorrow.

September 24, 2017

It was another scorcher!  Hot and dry!  I think a lot of folks think that since it is fall and we did have a taste of cooler weather, that watering is not necessary. I have seen many scorched plants–from annuals and perennials to trees and shrubs. If you have to replace trees, it is not an inexpensive task–not only to replant but to remove a dead tree–so water!    I did spend the day watering. I started on the deck and proceeded to all areas of the yard. I also blew off the deck and the walkways. Leaves are falling in earnest with this dry weather.  It was too miserable to do too many strenuous gardening chores, but I did prune, pull a few weeds and harvested as well as fertilized.

The vegetable garden is looking good in spite of the heat. I still have okra, peppers and eggplants coming on strong and the newly planted squash and tomatoes look really nice. 

 I also have blooms on my Roselle plant – Hibiscus sabdariffa which I got from Union County MG Barbie.   It is a beautiful 3-5 ft. plants with red stems and leaf veins. The bright red calyxes can be used to make “zingy” tea, sauce, syrup, or jam, or candied whole for an unusual treat. For strongly flavored teas, simmer for 10-20 minutes. Roselle was called “Florida cranberry” in the 1890s. The flowers and young leaves are edible and have a citrus tang.

Although my toad lilies are a bit aggressive, they are so nice in the garden now and the bees adore them. 

I think I am 100% recovered from jet lag, but I did receive a box of things I ordered and shipped, so I got to have a taste of Italy with fabulous Prosciutto with Arkansas melon and pecorino romano cheese.  It invoked good recent memories. 

I also spent quite a bit of time preparing presentations for my week ahead.  I think I am prepared, and hopefully the yard is too.  Fall–I am counting on you to make an appearance very soon!

First day of fall and it feels like summer!

September 22, 2017

Bring on fall–I am ready for cool,crisp weather, but our first day of fall feels a  lot like summer. Not only is it miserably hot, but dry as well.  I had a meeting today in WLR so I went by a nursery afterwards to see what was available.  The unseasonably hot weather has me delaying buying/planting truly fall/winter plants like pansies, violas and snapdragons, but I did buy some fall colored plants that can take the heat such as marigolds, asters, celosia, gaillardia, salvia, ornamental peppers and some fall foliage plants including kale, Swiss chard and giant red mustard.   

Pumpkins, gourds and other fall arrangements are appearing everywhere. I did buy my first pumpkin of the season.

I also spent time preparing for upcoming events and troubleshooting. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have any troubles? I keep remembering my motto–kindness matters!  Spread the wealth. One act of kindness spreads another.

West Fork

September 21, 2017

Today I drove up to the West Fork library for a public gardening program.  People just kept coming in!  They had to set up more tables and chairs and it was such a good group. They served a delightful lunch.   There were so many questions and it was just a good afternoon!  In addition to our gardening program, we celebrated 3 birthdays–2 today –our own Patsy Louk, and a local resident as well as Betty Swope on Monday.   Betty also made me a beautiful throw that she created with my favorite colors.  

It has a place of honor in my home already. 

It was an easy drive up and back, but it was as hot and dry up there as in Little Rock. We could sure use some rain, or fall-like temperatures!
I stopped to get gas near a garden center, so decided to pop in.  They had a lot of mums, but also pansies, fall vegetable transplants, fall salvia,and turks cap or Malvaviscus.

I am concerned that it is just too hot for some of these plants–pansies get leggy really fast when it is hot outside.  Some of the plants also looked a tad tired in this hot, dry period.  I have been seeing lots of signs of fall in gardens and home landscapes, from pansies and mums to pumpkins and fall decor.  I think I need a bit of cooler weather to get inspired.

Back to work and where is FALL?

September 20, 2017

While we were in Italy, all I heard about was how delightfully cool it was in Little Rock. What happened?  I am ready for some fall weather AND some rain.  It has been miserably hot and dry since I have been home.  I have devoted a lot of time to watering before and after work.

Getting back into the groove of work has not been difficult but I can’t say I am 100% recovered from jet lag yet either.  As long as I am busy I am good, but there are times I would love nothing more than to lay down and take a little snooze.  I have never been one for naps, and I am not starting now, but I am definitely ready for bed by 9:30 or so–My goal is to make it to 10 p.m. and I haven’t quite achieved that–maybe tonight!  I am also still getting up early, but that isn’t a bad thing.  Each day is just a little better.  Our final two travelers made it home today, so all are back.

There has been a lot to keep me occupied at the office. I caught up on mail and started preparing for programs. Fall is a big MG training season and we are hosting our first ever zoom MG training starting Oct.18, so I have been upgrading PowerPoints.  I spoke today to the Pulaski County MG training and they had a nice class.  Plenty of questions. 

Our Plant, Nurture, Grow Leadership class is next week at the 4-H Center so we have been busy finalizing plans for that as well.  Not too long after that is the MG Appreciation event in El Dorado, and then our 4 day bus trip to Mississippi.  There is a lot to do now!  We also got in the 2018 MG calendars on Monday.  They look great.  We will have them available for MG’s to purchase at Leadership and also free copies per MG at the MG appreciation day event in El Dorado.  I think we will have a good turnout there as well.

Tomorrow morning I head to NW Arkansas for a program in West Fork at the local library.

Life not quite normal yet

September 17, 2017

Yesterday was a day of the mundane–laundry, unpacking, grocery shopping and catching up on all the mail.  As long as I was active, I wasn’t tired at all.  My theory is that when we go on a trip there is so much excitement and activity, that you really don’t get jet-lagged. I get on the new schedule pretty quickly.  Coming home it is often a slower pace so it is a bit harder to get back on track.  The busier the better.  Yesterday afternoon we went to a retirement party of a good friend.     We had a great time and ate Mexican food (the kids had Mexican food waiting for us at home on Friday too).  It was an early evening and Clay went straight to bed, but my goal was to make it until 10 p.m.  I didn’t quite make it. I was watching a really good movie and fell asleep at the end, so I don’t know what happened. I woke up 30 minutes later and saw the credits!  I was up at 4 a.m. again.  It is amazing how much you can get done when you are up before the cows!

Today I did spend time in the garden. My daughter did a great job on the front beds, the vegetable gardens and the water garden area, but unfortunately a few things got missed in the back and side and I spent time watering, cutting back and doing a bit of damage control.  Where did all the cool weather go that they had while we were in Italy? It was darn hot outside, even early.  I did pick some figs, eggplants, okra and peppers, and cut back some perennials that are finished.  Interesting that the fig tree shed all its leaves while the hosta almost next to it looks fine and they got equal amounts of water! The hosta has a bunch of seed pods on it too.  Did you know you can grow them from seed?

Speaking of seeds, the buckeye seeds are ripe. When the powdery coating splits open to reveal the shiny seed, they are good to go.    If you want to carry it for good luck that is fine, but if you want to grow another red buckeye, then you have a few options.  You can plant it in the ground where you want it to grow (mark it so you protect the site), you can put it in a ziplock bag in moist potting soil in your refrigerator for the winter and plant next spring, or you can plant it in a pot outside and leave it. Buckeye seeds need a cool, moist dormancy period before they will germinate.  They also form a pretty strong tap-root quite quickly once they do begin to grow, so transplanting is difficult–thus the pot suggestion.

Regardless of moisture levels, the weeds in my yard were not deterred in the slightest. I weeded, pulled and hoed chambers bitters, crabgrass and mulberry weed until I am beat!     Occasionally a good plant got pulled along with the weeds.  Look closely at the back of the chambers bitters.  You can see seeds at the base and tiny white flowers on the tips where they are blooming to set even more seeds. Even the tiniest of weeds has seeds, which means more problems next year.    I also pulled garlic chives that have set a copious amount of seeds. I love the chives but hate how invasive they are. 

I am going to have a bumper crop of pineapple guava fruits this fall.  The plant is really loaded. 

You can really tell who has been watering and who hasn’t the past few weeks. It is dry for the first time in central Arkansas.   While I have one zone of my sprinkler system that is working well, I did find that part of an area is not getting watered, since the azaleas have grown so tall they are blocking the water spray.  The hellebores are suffering a bit –laying almost flat on the ground. They will bounce back, but I did water them today.

The vegetables I planted right before I left town are doing great. Carrots are sprouting, the tomato plant is growing and blooming, and the squash plants look happy.  I also have new growth on kale and the broccoli and Brussels sprouts look good too. 

My lemons are getting larger but still as green as can be.  I have 3 fruits.    The thing I am most proud of are that my spring-planted fuchsia are still living and BLOOMING!  I have never achieved that before.  These are next to the defoliated fig also.  Weird! 

My gardening chores about did me in, but I have done all that I can do today. I am heading out to turn off the sprinkler and then  I plan to sit down and read, but I will probably start to nod off.  I am shooting for 10 p.m. tonight too!  Tomorrow I am back at the office.

We are home!

September 16, 2017

All flights were on time and we made it home a bit early. No one had overweight luggage which was hard to believe, but some of us did ship things home.  Paris was tight since we had to go through border police where they had 2 open stations for lots of people, but we did not have to go through security. The line was so long to board our huge plane, that we did have time to go to the bathroom and get some water, but barely.  About half way home on the plane from Paris to Atlanta, one of our folks got sick, but luckily their seats were right in front of mine.  I got our two nurses Neva and Mary to help and there was a team Romanian doctor on board who was quite helpful.  We got her laying down across three seats where she stayed for the remainder of the trip until about 20 minutes before we landed.  Clay got to sit in the flight attendants jump seat for a good portion of the trip–which was comfortable and lots of leg room.  The flight crew was great and brought oxygen for her on the plane, and an emergency medical team met us in Atlanta.  They assessed her and expedited her through customs and they got her some juice and crackers and she made it on to our flight to LR.  She looked a lot better but was really tired.  Not sure what happened, but the flight crew said it is not unusual on long flights.  It was a bit of excitement to end the trip, but everyone pitched in and were so helpful.  The flight attendants tried to give the Romanian doctor some credits for future flights for his help, but he refused. He said to me–not everything is about money. I am glad to help.  He was with 33 athletes heading to the world champion rowing competition in Sarasota, Florida. We are now rooting for team Romania!

All of our luggage made it to Little Rock and we were out quickly.  All’s well that end’s well. It was a great trip with an amazing group of Master Gardeners.  When you travel together for two weeks, you get to know each other well.   We saw 11 beautiful gardens, one large nursery, stayed in 5 different hotels, ate some amazing food, traveled by plane, bus, boat, water taxi and some by gondola, walked an average of 5 miles a day and a lot of stairs and I took almost 1500 photos!  We shopped, we talked, we laughed, we ate well and we made some amazing new friends both in Italy and in Arkansas.

It was a wonderful experience, but it did feel good to sleep in my own bed.  I was up at 4 a.m. so laundry is done and I am unpacked. Back to the daily routine.


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