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Crape myrtle pruning

February 18, 2017

I had an early drive to DeWitt this morning and it was an overcast and gloomy day. morning-nlr-feb17

Driving through Stuttgart there were birds everywhere. Fields of ducks, geese and egrets and cranes.  The fields were loaded as were the skies. I wished I could have stopped and taken pictures but I was on a time crunch. birds-stuttgart-1

Today we had a great day in DeWitt doing a hands-on crape myrtle pruning demonstration. We had some smaller trees that had been “murdered” for many years in a row crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-2that we rehabilitated and then we had two that have never been pruned since they were planted.  crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-10I did a short demonstration and explained the principles and they went after it.  We were happy to have some strong men to use the loppers on some of the bigger branches, and we also put the pruning saw to good use.  It will take time to get all the “knobs” off crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-7and the trees back to looking like they should but today was a good start and we had helpers of all ages. crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-8 crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-11 crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-12 crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-13 crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-15

They were looking so much better by the time we finished.  Then we drove to the community center and worked on some trees that also had been left to grow on their own.  crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-16 crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-18 crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-19 crape-myrtle-pruning-dewitt-20

We got the trees thinned out and the ornamental grasses cut back as well.  It was definitely an improvement with a lot of good helpers.

While I was on my way to the class I got a call from home that our oldest dog Glow had fallen and they thought was badly hurt. I told them to get her to the vet and see what she said.  It did not sound good since she was almost 16.  The vet said she had dislocated her hip and while there were options, the best for Glow was to get out of pain.  I was sad that I did not get to tell her goodbye, but she had a very good and long life.  I got home and spent time looking at the photos over her life, and was amazed at how white she had turned the last few years.  glow5 glow6  She was a good surrogate mom for the puppies that followed and was always sweet and gentle.  glow2  She will be missed.  Only pet owners know the bond that exists between our furry children and the families they become a part of.  It leaves a hole but so many good times to cherish.


A spring-like Friday

February 17, 2017

People were out en mass this afternoon with the spring-like weather. While some parts of our yards still look like wintermarthas-2 many more look like spring.  pansies-and-daffodils-feb-1  The daffodils are peaking.daffodils-feb17-2 daffodils-feb17-3  This one had a surprise inside awaiting some unsuspecting pollinator. daffodils-feb17-1 I saw blooms on kerria todaykerria-feb17-17 along with sweet-smelling winter honeysuckle winter-honeysuckle-feb-17 and tea olive tea-olive-feb17-17.

I was out running errands and stopped in at Wordsworth Books to sign one of my new books when I ran into a dear friend that I was so happy to see out and about. jean-ann-feb-17-1 Looking good Jean Ann, and where else would you expect to find a retired librarian, but at a bookstore!

Tomorrow I head to DeWitt for a pruning workshop. I was asked to share the video from it, but not sure how I can take pictures and prune at the same time, but I will try to get some photos of the day if no video.  It looks like a fabulous weekend to be in the garden.

Training and weather

February 17, 2017

It was an early morning drive to Hot Springs for the first talks of the day at the MG training for Garland, Grant, Hot Spring, Montgomery, and Saline County MG training. They had a large class in spite of having hosted the summer Saturday training in Bryant this past summer. garland-co-training-2These agents really work together to put on the training and they do a great job. garland-co-training-5Saline was “hosting” today so their president and VP were there along with the agent.  They do a take-home test each week to help them review, and it was a long one. Allen went over the questions with them and it was very thorough. There is a whole lot of learning going on here!  I left it in the good hands of Jim Robbins who was teaching propagation. garland-co-training-6 garland-co-training-4

It was 33 degrees when I got up yesterday and it is 38 degrees this morning. While there was no frost in my yard, I saw frost a lot driving south.  But then it got up to 67 degrees and by Sunday they are predicting almost 80!  The tulip magnolias are in full bloom tulip-magnolia-feb13-171 tulip-magnolia-feb13-172 and I saw tons of daffodils and tulips all along my drive.  tulips-mar28-6  I took this picture last March 28 and it is just February 17!  The forsythia is blooming as well.  This is a good example of one that needs to be pruned AFTER bloom, not during. forsythia-17-1 forsythia-17-2  A third of the old canes or possibly even half, need to be thinned out at the soil line.  If you will notice, lots of blooms on the top but much more old brown wood with no blooms at the base. Rejuvenation pruning would help correct that.  Not sure why they are pruning stems during blooming.

With the mild forecast this weekend, it will be a great weekend to prune plants that need pruning now.  Don’t touch the spring bloomers, but if your crape myrtles need it now is the time to be pruning.  I am doing a hands-on pruning workshop tomorrow in DeWitt at the community college starting at 9:30.  Bring your pruning shears and we will show you the correct way to prune a crape myrtle.

Cleburne County

February 15, 2017

Last fall as I was doing MG training in Cleburne County, agent Michelle talked to me about some challenges their county was facing and that their numbers were not growing as much as they liked. We decided to hold a County Rally to come up with some strategies on how to address the challenges and come up with some solutions–or goals.

We had a great day with the majority of their members present. 

Michelle had inspirational messages all over the room. We talked about MG updates, and then I gave them some games to do to divide them into groups.  

Folks really embraced the day and what we asked of them. They had fun and they learned about each other. We did some personality profiling and talked a little about how people differ and how we can work together. After lunch we talked about their personal surveys and setting goals. But we ended with a color group team jeopardy, which the yellow team won! 

It was a really good day working with a group of volunteers and an agent who want to make a difference in their community and are dedicated to the Arkansas Master Gardener program. I am proud to work with all of them! 

I expect great things from this county moving forward! 

On the home front, my Valentine roses still look great 

And I adore the color! Thank you Clay!

A full Monday

February 13, 2017

I was up and out early this morning for a breakfast meeting at the Holiday Inn Airport. Some good friends of mine from Louisiana want to host the national azalea society conference in LR in 2018.  They asked me to help them out in planning the conference and finding a spot. We narrowed the search to the Holiday Inn Airport and I met with the Holiday Inn staff this morning to go over the details and see their renovations. A lot has happened there since we last had a conference there, and it is quite nice. It should be an excellent location for the conference in April 2018.  holiday-inn-airport-feb-17-01 holiday-inn-airport-feb-17-02 holiday-inn-airport-feb-17-14 holiday-inn-airport-feb-17-21  I am also helping them find azalea gardens to tour. If you know of some that would work well in central Arkansas that have azaleas as well as other plants, let me know.

Then it was off to the office to work on the District Dig Ins, State Conference, PP’s and columns and more.  The day flew by and then tonight I spoke to the central Arkansas Beekeepers in Levy.  central-ark-beekeepers-feb17-1 central-ark-beekeepers-feb17-3 central-ark-beekeepers-feb17-4

I had about thirty minutes between getting home from work and leaving for the meeting so I ran out and planted some vegetable seeds–I planted English peas, kale, and spinach seeds to catch the rains that are predicted tomorrow. I also threw in some nasturtium seeds.

I finally had a chance to walk my garden in daylight and so much is happening. I have 5 different varieties of hellebores in bloom and I adore them all. hellebores-feb13-172 hellebores-feb13-173 hellebores-feb13-174 hellebores-feb13-176 hellebores-feb13-177 hellebores-feb13-178 hellebores-feb13-179  My bok choy has to be harvested this week as it is bolting with all this warm weather. The bees were having a field day.  I planted 12 and I have 5 left, so bok choy slaw and oven braised bok choy are in my near future. bok-choy-bolting-feb13-172 bok-choy-bolting-feb13-173 I was hoping my Chinese cabbage would head better, but they too are beginning to bolt, so I will have to use what I can. chinese-cabbage-feb13-17

The spring beauties are blooming in the lawn spring-beauty-feb-172 and the loropetalum loropetalum-feb13-172 loropetalum-feb13-173are kicking in along with rosemaryrosemary-blooms-feb13-17 and camellias. camellia-feb13-17

The variegated alstroemeria img_1820that they weren’t sure was winter hardy is back full force and so is the garlic chives!garlic-chives-feb13-17

The calendar may say February 13, but the weather and garden say SPRING!

Hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Jonesboro and home

February 13, 2017

It was supposed to be a cooler day and when we got up it was cloudy and gloomy, but the skies brightened and the sun came out and spring was back. It was a beautiful day in Jonesboro, but while it would have been a great day to garden outside, we had a great group of gardeners who came inside to hear my talk on native plants. jonesboro-garden-club-talk-172 We had a lot of questions, and I didn’t realize we went as late as we did–but I was on the road before 4 p.m. heading home.

The Horticulture Garden Club awards college scholarships and so do the Craighead County Master Gardeners. The two recipients this year are the same for both scholarships and they were there to hear the talk and be introduced. scholarship-winners-asu-171  One is also the recipient of one of the Arkansas Flower & Garden Show scholarships.  Both are hardworking and deserving seniors.

In the morning I was able to run a few errands and pick up some things for the house, and get Valentine’s presents. I was early so stores were not crowded, but there are a lot of things to buy.  I was surprised to see bouquets of roses at the entrance and the checkout at Target.img_1722 So no excuses guys!  And if you want to give something that will last even longer, flowering houseplants like this cyclamen would be nice. cyclamen-17

I also got to tour Kim’s greenhouses at ASU to see what they are growing.  Her classes are doing propagation and there were a lot of cuttings. propagation-cuttings-asu2 propagation-cuttings-asu4Some will be used for the plant sale in the spring.  They are also growing a wide variety of vegetables in containers for a vegetable class. This just shows that all vegetables can be container grown, not just in the ground. asparagus-asu17 potatoes-asu-17 sweet-potato-asu-17 vegetables-asu-171The sweet potatoes and potatoes looked great, but the asparagus was a tad wimpy. Speaking of asparagus, one MG already has harvested 3 spears outside with more coming up.  Things are on warp speed this year.

They also grow a lot of the common houseplants. Two groups that she had a lot of are the Commelinaceae family (dayflower or spiderwort family).  There are so many varieties to choose from but all have similar three-point blooms and all are monocots, or flowering plants that have one seed leaf, flower parts in threes, and parallel veining.  spiderwort-family-11 spiderwort-family-12 spiderwort-family-13 spiderwort-family-14Common names include Fuzzy Wandering Jew, Tahitian bridal veil, Bolivian Jew and Wandering Jew.

The other group is the Plectranthus genus in the mint family.  While many are familiar with the old-fashioned Swedish Ivy, there are many more choices these days:

plectranthus-171 plectranthus-172  plectranthus-174 plectranthus-175 plectranthus-176 plectranthus-177

Although similar in their growth habit,  they are all slightly different species.  Most are grown for their foliage but they do have the potential to bloom.  The  variety most commonly sold for flowers in Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ or ‘Velvet Elvis’. plectranthus-mona-lavendar-jun16 plectranthus-velvet-elvis-in-pot-16  and one I just saw last season with a pinkish-red bloom is Hilliardiae Red plectranthus-hilliardia-red-at-2 So you can see how difficult it is to be able to identify all the plants out there, when there are so many different species and cultivars of the same plant or within a family group.  Knowing something about how plants grows, can help you narrow the search.

It was an easy drive home and I got to see a very pretty sunset. sunset-feb12-172 sunset-feb12-174



February 12, 2017

It was a quick in and out for an oil change before I left town yesterday for the drive to Jonesboro, and with no traffic and the new bypass I made it there in record time. I was able to hear the end of Dr. Kim Pittcocks presentation on propagation. Kim had the morning and I had the afternoon training. This was a large class with folks from 8 surrounding counties–one from as far as Batesville who wanted a Saturday training. 

Mimi was helping to organize things and on hand to sell County 76 wares. 

As Kim got to the end of her talk she had some hands on props to demonstrate cuttings and rooting.

She also let them try their hands at grafting. She brought two precut pieces with the whip and tongue method and let them practice using grafting tape to wrap them. 

Everyone loves doing something hands on instead of just sitting and listening to powerpoint presentations, which is what they got from me in the afternoon. They had loads of questions and it was a really good class. 

Last night Kim and I met up for dinner and caught up. Today I will meet the garden club board for lunch before my afternoon presentation. It is a lot cooler today than yesterday. The weather can’t seem to make up its mind. 

After my 2:00 presentation on native plants, I will head home. 

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