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Planning for 2017 and friends

July 30, 2015
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I hope you all walked outside this morning. Even though we didn’t get the promised rain, we have a break in the weather and humidity was low and the temps were delightful this morning. It would have been a great day to work in the yard, but I had too much to do at the office. We are frantically trying to cross off all our to-do lists before we leave town again. Julie and I head to New Orleans Monday morning for a week-long conference. I left the office to go to the Pulaski County office to meet with the new committee chairs for the 2017 MG Conference which will be held in Little Rock. The are an organized bunch and they asked a lot of good questions. They have two months to come up with their budget requests. pulaski county planning july.15.1

pulaski county planning july.15.2

Then it was back to the office to finish up things. We are trying to get the information out about the MG Day at Garvan September 10, but we have been having some computer problems. Hopefully it will be out tomorrow. I also worked on finalizing travel plans for the IMGC in September. We are planning on going to Powell Garden on our way up and I am trying to organize with those who may be driving on their own.

I ended up leaving the office later than planned, since I had a dinner party at home tonight. We have a friend in from out-of-town so we invited others to join us. I cooked his favorite meal of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, green beans and fried okra. Not exactly heart healthy, but it is what he asked for. Katie said she thought we had used every tool in the kitchen before it was over. It turned out well and the kitchen is even back to normal already, and they just left.dinner party.july.15.1

I did have a chance to check the garden earlier, and I am excited that we have four little watermelons coming on. watermelon july29.152

watermelon july29.153They were about the size of a marble on Sunday and I am amazed at how quickly they are growing.

I also have quite a few more Cherokee purple tomatoes that should be ready soon. I only hope they ripen before Monday or wait until after next Friday, so I can enjoy them. tomatoes.july29.151

tomatoes.july29.152 Unbelievably my family doesn’t like fresh tomatoes!!

One more day to get things done tomorrow, so we have a lot to get accomplished.

Another HOT day!

July 29, 2015
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I spent the bulk of the day at the office, writing and planning. I also visited with a horticulture student who will be a senior at the UA this year. She is considering a career in Extension, and I hope I guided her in the right way. I have been blessed with a fabulous career and a job I have loved from the day I started. If I can help guide another individual to choose something they are passionate for, all he better.

I also got a question today, that was unique. I had a grower in the New Mexico/Texas area who had 2100 ACRES of rosemary. They were harvesting two times a yea, and asking me for a fertilizer regime. I am working on one, but don’t have a definitive answer. I asked him to send me a picture, and he sent two: rosemary field.july.15.

rosemary.tx.july15. they are growing the rosemary for oil, and harvest twice a year. I am impressed! He invited me to come visit, and I think it would be worth a trip!

I also am working on the 2015 MG Appreciation day at Garvan Gardens– September 10. It will be our last one at the gardens for a while, and they are doing it up right. I love the design for the t-shirt. mg day at Garvan.2015 To order a shirt, go to: http://www.garvangardens.org/purchase_tickets/default.aspx
Details will go out to Master Gardeners tomorrow–but just remember the date, and if you wear our name badge, yu get in free that day. Lots of cool things are planned, so plan to come!

The actual thermometer said 103 but the heat index said 115 but however you say it, it was a HOT day! We were supposed to get a cold front passing through with the potential for rain, but so far haven’t seen that. Although the sprinkler system ran, I did do a bit more watering when I got home tonight. Hardy hibiscus love this heat, but do like water. There are varieties that can grow 10 feet tall, and then newer ones that stay compact. There are also green leafed and purpled leafed varieties–this new one has pink flowers to accompany their purphardy hibiscus july29.153le leaves.
hardy hibisucs buds.july29.15.
Stay cool!

meeting to meeting to meeting!

July 28, 2015
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Today was a day of meetings. I had some stops in south Arkansas, and was able to drop in on the MG of the Deltas monthly meeting in Monticello. mg of the delta.july (1)

mg of the delta.july (2)

mg of the delta.july (4). This small but mighty group of 5 counties hosted our state conference a few years back in Monticello. It was great to see and hear about what they are doing. Then I had to head back to the office for the final run-through of the new money management guidelines for volunteers. I basically walked in from the parking lot into the meeting. money management runthrough.15 (2) I think we have it down, but I will miss the first few days of training which occur next week, since I will be in New Orleans at the American Society for Horticultural Science meetings.
I left that meeting and went to the Arkansas Flower & Garden Show board meeting. I missed most of the monthly meeting, but did get to sit in on the after-meeting of the special event committee. Definitely a full day of meetings!

My lotus had its second bloom of the season. lotus july26 (3) Did you know the lotus plant is edible? Nelumbo nucifera is the Latin name but the plant is commonly called sacred lotus in reference to the sacred and symbolic status the flower holds in Buddhism and Hinduism. It is native to Asia and Australia. It is a large-flowered plant that typically grows 3-6’ tall in shallow water and spreads by thickened rhizomes rooted in the mud. The large flowers can be white or pink and typically open and close for about three days. The flowers are followed by nut-like fruits that are in a seed pod that many use in dried flower arrangements. lotus july26 (1)

lotus july26 (2) The rhizomes, leaves and seeds of lotus are edible and are sometimes used in Asian cooking. Have any of you ever eaten any parts? I have not.

It was another hot day–but try to stay cool and work outside early if you can–and WATER!

Back to work

July 27, 2015
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My few days off was quite nice. I got a lot accomplished and had fun, so it was a good long weekend. Yesterday I ran errands and swam, then went to supper club. We had it on Sunday due to conflicting schedules and we had a great summer shrimp boil with fresh farmers market corn and potatoes. supper club july.15 (3)

supper club july.15 (4) This is the high-tech way to cool down shrimp quickly: supper club july.15 (5) After a great meal topped off with Clay’s favorite pineapple upside down cake supper club july.15 (2) we got home in time to visit with an out-of-town friend. So a late full night, meant no blog yesterday!

Today I was happy to be in the office all day with a heat index of 105. Don’t forget to water your plants, and if you are outside, drink plenty of liquids. I drink a lot of unsweet iced tea, and if you live in the south, finding bottled tea when I am traveling, can be a difficult task. I make it in a pitcher at home, but when I am out I like to get a bottle for the car and I usually can’t find it, so I started buying a six-pack and keeping some with me. Now I can’t find anything but sweet, flavored, diet (which is sweet) and super sweet! tea.1

tea2 I have been everywhere and all you see is sweet, sweeter and sweetest! So I drink water!

Here are the answers to your mystery plants for last week and your new challenge:

Mystery plant A – mystery plant a july20.15 (2) is Amaranthus tricolor (am-uh-RANTH-us TRY-kull-lur)also sometimes called summer poinsettia. This is a vigorous, upright annual with showy colorful top foliage reaching 3 1/2 to 4 feet tall. Provides color from summer through fall. Ideal colorful border plant or in containers for patio accent. It is also edible and the leaves can be eaten much like spinach.

Mystery plant B – mystery plant bjuly20.15 (1) is Hamelia patens (ham-EE-lee-uh PAT-ens)commonly called Firebush or Firecracker plant. It is a summer annual or tropical for us for full sun. The plant is native to Southern Florida, Mexico, Central and South America. It produces non-stop tubular orange-red to red flowers in terminal clusters all summer up until a frost. Butterflies and hummingbirds love this plant.

Mystery plant C – mystery plant c.july20.15 (2) is Colocasia esculenta (kol-oh-KAY-see-uh es-kew-LEN-tuh) commonly called Elephant Ears. They are thriving this year at Garvan Gardens. The darker ones are Kona Coffee and the lime colored leaves are Lime Zinger. While many are winter hardy in central and southern Arkansas, if you are spending big bucks for some of these newer varieties, you may want to lift and store the bulbs for the winter. They do best in shade or filtered sunlight and they like ample moisture.

Here are your new mystery plants:

Mystery plant A –mystery plant a.july27.15

Mystery plant B – mystery plant b.july27.14

Mystery plant C- 2014 Scotland 059 NH UnidentifiedPlant

Good luck!

A relaxed Saturday

July 25, 2015
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It was the first Saturday I have had at home in months, so I decided to hit some farmers markets. I love to go to farmers markets, and try to do even when I am traveling. I started out at the River Market. This market is the oldest in the state, and today it is way more than vegetables–there were crafts, prepared goods, hummus and cheese in addition to fruits and vegetables, but not everything is home grown. You can kind of tell when there are asparagus in July, or pineapple which we don’t grow, but there are still plenty of local fare to choose from. farmers market LR.july25.15 (1) The Pulaski County Master Gardeners farmers market LR.july25.15 (2)go monthly to answer questions and even give away some plants. This is a great service, even on a really hot Saturday. I bought some produce, some local Kent Walker cheese and some locally made hummus and decided to make one more stop. I drove over to Argenta, which is much smaller, but all locally produced. farmers market argenta.july (1)

farmers market argenta.july (2) I got peaches and nectarines, some local cheese, corn and some green tomatoes. I have waited too long for mine to ripen at home, so I would not eat them green, so I bought them. Tonight we had fried green tomatoes and they were divine. fried green tomatoes2 (2)fried green tomatoes1. I am digressing I know, but if you haven’t tried the chipolte mayonnaise, you don’t know what you are missing. We had this along with grilled fig balsamic glazed peaches and nectarines from the marketpeaches marinated.july and grilled Korean barbecue sauce marinated turkey cutlets. I have to say it was pretty tasty!

If you haven’t been to a local market–go. Our farmers work hard to produce quality products for us, and they are outside in this heat all the time, and sitting at the markets waiting to sell. When I was buying the peaches in Argenta, the grower had stepped away from his booth for a bit, so another grower stepped in to take our money and serve us. They all band together. There is nothing like fresh produce–it does taste so much better.

I guess I had not driven downtown lately, but both sides of the river had great planters. LR is replacing the trees they took out and they have Equisetum and cardinal flower lobelia planted. downtown LR July25.15 The beds in downtown Argenta are planted and maintained by Pulaski County MGs and they look great. argenta july15 (2)

I was blessed with a tenth of an inch of rain tonight right before I turned on the grill. It cooled the temperatures but really raised the humidity. After dinner I went out to get some pictures, and it took forever for my lens not to cloud up. front garden july.15 (1)

front garden july.15 (2)

loropetalum pruned. july.15. This is my hosta that was eaten by the deerhosta eaten by deer. july24.15. and the hydrangea is already bouncing back–hopefully they will go elsewhere. hydrangea eaten by deer bouncind back. july.15. The new David Austin rose is reblooming and has lovely flowers rose david austin.july15 (2)

rose david austin.july15 (3) and the Encore azaleas are putting on a show azalea encore, july25 (2) along with my dwarf crape myrtle which is about three feet across and twelve inches tall. crape myrtle dwarf red july.25.15.
I picked my first Cherokee purple tomato and it has cracked pretty bad with all the moisture changes. tomato split.july15It will still taste good once I cut away the damage. More are coming on, and so far, they don’t have any cracks so am keeping my fingers crossed.

It is hot and getting hotter!

July 24, 2015
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It is days like today (and what is predicted this weekend) that I am grateful that I have a mostly inside job. My second day off was spent outside for half the day. I hit it early. I was outside a little before 8 and got a lot done before the temperatures really heated up, but it was already humid early and it just got worse. I cannot get over how fast the weeds are growing. That awful chambers bitters is everywhere. chambers bitters july 26.. I pulled weeds and weed wacked as many as possible, but more will follow. I seem to have more crabgrass this year as well–my mother used to call it water grass, so maybe the extra rain aided it. Large Crabgrass 1 The problem with this other annual weed is that even when you cut it back, it bounces back quickly and has large seed heads, which you really want to prevent scattering more seeds for next year. I weeded, I deadheaded and I pruned. I took back about 1/3 of the lower limbs on my large loropetalum my yard apr26.15.1 I will add an after picture tomorrow. I was too pooped to go back outside and take pictures after I got cleaned up–I also didn’t want to start sweating all over again!

As I travel the state I hear horror stories about animals in the garden, and I have been sympathetic, but never really had any issues. Even our squirrels are well-behaved and have left my garden alone. Last week I saw signs of deer in my yard for the first time ever, and today, one of my hostas has been nipped to the ground. hosta deer I guess I will need to set up the nature camera to get some photos like these I found on the web: deer+77+3 Then to add insult to injury, the newly planted fig tree had birds eating the figs, and we found a mouse in the garage and a raccoon on the deck last night. We are turning into animal planet!

I finally called it quits at a little after noon, and turned the sprinklers on and went inside. I did eat my favorite lunch the salad caprese with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden with fresh mozzarella. caprese salad. Then I spent the rest of the day doing grocery shopping and laundry–but they were all in air-conditioning!! If you are working outside, drink plenty of fluids and take breaks—and also, start early. And don’t forget to water, especially container plants dry out so quickly. I got about 1/4 of an inch of rain yesterday but things were already pretty dry later this afternoon.

A late bloomer!

July 23, 2015
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Ok, so it is getting near the end of July and today I finally planted all the pots on my deck.conatiner july22.15.

night blooming jasmine.july23.15.2 What can I say, but I am a bit of a late bloomer this year! I have had one pot planted, petunias july.15.but the rest had plants to go in them, just not the time nor the soil to plant them. So yesterday I got caught up at the office and am now taking a few days off to “rest and relax”!

Although the temperatures were a bit milder today, the humidity was awful. Just going from my car to the store had my sunglasses fog up. I had my strong son with me to load bags and bricks, and he went off to look at something as I headed to the check out. The guy at the register was in awe since he thought I had lifted all the huge, heavy bags myself. He said, “Mam, did you lift those by yourself?!” I should have said yes and really impressed him, but I laughed and told him my son had done it–and he walked up about then as well.

When it is just me, I buy the small bags that I can handle, but today we bought the giant ones. The new planter that the Saline County MGs gave me is now gracing my deck with a fig tree in honor of dad. It looks great. fig planter july.15.1

fig planter july.15.2 And Randy, don’t you just LOVE the color?! Julie and I found some great deals on tropical plants heading home from Texas last week, so I bought 3 tropical hibiscus with no open blooms thinking they were all apricot color like the tag, but I have a bright yellow,tropical hibiscus july23.15.1 a bright pink and an orange! They are not getting planted in the same pot. The night blooming jasmine has been limping along in a small pot and now it got upgraded as well. It has been blooming nicely for a few weeks now. night blooming jasmine.july23.15.1 The other sweet-smelling plant on the deck right now is my hosta. hosta july23.15. I think we often forget about the blooms.

I added some fresh soil to the old pots and added fertilizer, and after I planted I watered everything. The dogs were trying to help, and I noticed one eating the leaves off the lower branches and another was eating some of the fresh soil out of the pots!

I also pulled a few weeds, deadheaded, my yard july24.15cleaned out the water garden and by then I looked like I had been swimming. It felt good to go inside and luckily I had electricians coming at 1, which gave me another excuse to stay inside.

Now it is raining, which is a great way to finish watering everything in and help clean off the deck! What a fitting end to my gardening day.

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