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Storms and plants

July 3, 2015
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They say that God makes rainy days to give gardeners a chance to clean their house, so I did do some cleaning and organizing, but I also ran a lot of errands today. The rain came and went off and on all day with a total so far of almost 1 1/2 inches. There were times (and I was out driving in it) when it literally poured buckets. People were pulling off onto the side of the road, which I also don’t think is that safe. Other times–like now, the sun is shining. It was one of those sun-shining moments when I left to go to Plantopia–Chris Olsen’s new nursery in NLR. He has really transformed the old Lakewood Gardens and he had a lot of plants–tropicals, houseplants and even annuals. Several of the torenia I bought were really overgrown, but I need overgrown since I am starting a tad late. plantopia july3.151

plantopia july3.152

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plantopia july3.155 I also got some great bargains, since there was a sale. The hanging baskets of dragonwing begonias were large and nicely priced. You can see from the skies that the sunshine was fading fast. By the time I hit the interstate it was thundering,lightening and pouring rain. I had a couple more errands and got the car unloaded without getting too soaked. Hopefully I can plant later tomorrow or Sunday. I got my new mini SD card for the Go Pro, so maybe I can video my planting! I am keeping my fingers crossed that I get to plant. I am sure Clay was elated to see new plants since I am leaving town again next week!!

In search of color

July 2, 2015
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I am excited! I have a three day weekend and I have NO scheduled activities–so it is a chance to get some things done at home. I am so behind in the yard, and I have been having a tough time finding any seasonal color to put in. If you drive up, the color you see is from dianthus, a few violas and snapdragons–and it is JULY 2!! dianthus and viola july2.15.

snapdragons july2.15.2 I have been to various nurseries here and out in the state, and I am not finding the plants I want. I thought for sure Good Earth would have them, good earth july2.15.1but their annual color is on its way out, but they do have plenty of shrubs, perennials and the like. I did buy a tapioca plant, a mandevillagood earth july2.15.2 and a new annual which I will share later, after I use it as a mystery plant. I got to visit a bit with my good friend (and past assistant) Jennifer. I also bought some cool orange reading glasses! They have the best readers in town!

Note to self–regardless of how busy you are, or how cool the spring, stock up on summer annuals before July!

My garden is relying on perennials and shrubs for summer color, so I am going to have to get creative. My panicle hydrangeas are just beginning to bloom panicle hydrangeas july2.15 and the abelia blooms non-stop. abelia blooms july 1.15 I also have blooms on roses, drift rose july2.15.erythrina erythrina july2.15. and butterfly weed–both tropical and perennial. butterfly weed tropical july2.15. The hardy hibiscus are blooming hady hibiscus july2.15.3 and my cape fuchsia is on year three with showy flowers, albeit small. cape fuschia.july2.152 I also do know that green and shades within are colors so I do love the hostas and heucheras heuchera and hosta july2.15.

hosta july2.15. but this year no masses of amazing colors. I guess I need to put in Miss Huff lantanas when I can find them–look how big they are from last years plants at Good Earth.lantana miss huff july.2.15

I also picked up an extra battery and charger for my camera and made a new camera purchase. I am now the proud owner of a Go Progo pro.july2.15.–thanks to county agent Amy, who said I needed one. What exactly I am going to do with it, I am not sure, but it is charging. As I am reading the instructions, I find that I didn’t get a micro SD card–and it doesn’t come with one, so I can’t start using it until I go back and buy one. I wish they had told me to get one! I also bought a body harness. This is one of those cameras that skydivers and skiers use to take pictures with while they are active. Mine won’t be quite as exciting, but I hope to do some how-to videos on gardening, if I figure it out. Stay tuned!!

Finally, a day in the office and mystery plants

July 1, 2015
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I did have a whole day in the office, but unfortunately had an all afternoon meeting on money management that cut into my work load, but I still got a lot accomplished. Julie and I leave again for a week next Tuesday going to Austin for a youth gardening and Junior Master Gardener conference, so we are trying to tie up loose ends for Saturday MG conference, the Heirloom Plants workshop at Garvan Gardens on July 13, County 76 events, and Advanced MG training on bees on July 15. So much to do. I also have columns to write, so time is of the essence.

I forgot to identify the mystery seeds and load this weeks challenge, so here goes:
Mystery seed 1 – mystery seed pods.june22.15.4 is the seed pod from moon flower Datura moon flower datura sept8 (1). These spiny seed pods open and drop seeds, which can reseed themselves.

Seed 2 – mystery seed pods.june22.15.3 is the seed pod for the Chinese sweet shrub (Sinocalycanthus or Calycanthus chinensis). This deciduous shrub grows 8 to 10 feet tall and blooms with large non-fragrant flowers in the shade. sinocalycanthus may.1

Seed 3 –mystery seed pods.june22.15.1 is a classic milkweed seed pod. This one is from my butterfly weed and if you want your plant to be more free-flowering, then you should dead-head (cut off the spent blooms to prevent seed set). butterfly weed aesclepias learning fields june5.

Seed 4 – mystery seed pod3. is the seed pod from a sweet bay magnolia. The plants at the Hope Research Station were loaded, which meant they bloomed beautifully. As they mature, they will turn an interesting pinkish red. sweet bay magnolia seeds.aug18.15

sweetbay magnolia

Seed 5 – mystery seed pod 4. are the seed pods from the Royal Paulownia or Empress tree. While the purple blooms are showy, royal paulownia tree2the seeds scatter and germinate at will, making them a somewhat invasive species.

Here are your mystery plants for the week:
Mystery plant A – mystery plant a.june29. is a plant sent in to me for identification.

Mystery plant B – mystery plant b.jun29 was sent to me from friends touring a garden.

and Mystery plant C – mystery plant c. june29.1

mystery plant c. june29.2 is a perennial.

Good Luck!

Eureka, planning and closing

June 30, 2015
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This morning we had a meeting with our host facility in Eureka Springs for the 2016 State MG Conference, trying to nail down the costs of food and facilities. The hotel was bombarded the last day of this year’s MG conference with people making hotel reservations, before we even announced the rate–the hotel is full and we will soon post alternative hotels, once we get things finalized a bit. carroll county planning june15.2

After our meeting, we drove home. Tonight was the final service at our favorite restaurant Acadia. acadia last night june.15.01 We have been going there for regular dinners, but special occasions including New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s day for over ten years. We have made many memories with friends here over the years. acadia last night june.15.02

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acadia last night june.15.12 It was even more bittersweet, since our son has been the sous chef and has loved this job. acadia last night june.15.10 His experience with owner and head chef James will serve him well wherever he goes. It was a limited menu tonight, but outstanding as always.

Carroll County

June 29, 2015
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Today was a full day looking at optional venues for events and tours in Carroll County for next years state MG conference.  We started off at Little Portion Monastary which was one of the sites of the first years MG conference post tour.  They have changed a lot since those early days and in 2008 they had to almost start over after a devastating fire.  We had the grand tour with Brother Mark and their gardens are amazing.  They no longer grow commercial vegetables, but they have lovely native plant gardens surrounding the property.  little portion monastary (1) little portion monastary (9) little portion monastary (27) little portion monastary (28) little portion monastary (30) little portion monastary (38)From there it was a short drive to Holiday Island. I have seen the signs for years, but have never ventured into this community.  Lovely homes and vistas and an historic suspension bridge known as the golden gate of the Ozarks.  holiday island (1) holiday island (7) holiday island (6) holiday island (4) holiday island (2)

Then we drove into Eureka Springs where we looked at the Crescent Hotel and St. Elizabeth’s church garden.

izabeths catholic church (1) izabeths catholic church (2) izabeths catholic church (7) izabeths catholic church (9) izabeths catholic church (12) izabeths catholic church (13)

Our last stop was Blue Springs the old site of the Eureka Springs Botanical Garden, again our first tour ever for a state MG conference.  It has great potential and we are looking at options for 2016.blue springs june15 (2) blue springs june15 (4) blue springs june15 (9) blue springs june15 (13) blue springs june15 (14) blue springs june15 (17) blue springs june15 (22) blue springs june15 (24) blue springs june15 (29)Along the way, I also did some plant quizzing!

We saw some interesting insects today from the catalpa worm–and it’s damage izabeths catholic church (15) izabeths catholic church (16) what I think is a tussock moth caterpillario moth caterpillar.blue springs (2) io moth caterpillar.blue springs (3) and one of the friendliest baby rabbits, until Julie scared him off! rabbit blue springs (1) rabbit blue springs (3) All in all a full, but productive day.  Tonight Julie and I had an excellent dinner at Fresh, Farm to Table.

Wouterina Sculpture Garden

June 28, 2015
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I haven’t had time to share with you the garden tour I took on Friday morning. We boarded a bus and headed to Beldenville, Wisconsin to tour folk artist Wouterina de Raad’s Mosaic Sculpture Garden. This three acre garden full of perennials also is the perfect showcase for her original garden art of mosaics and concrete sculptures. To say they are unique is putting it mildly. Many of the art pieces are as functional as they are beautiful, such as the mermaid bencheswouterina sculpture garden WI 2015 (111) and people who not only hold up the clothesline, but also serve as a bird house. wouterina sculpture garden WI 2015 (68) She has seating all over the garden which she has made. wouterina sculpture garden WI 2015 (15)

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She showed us her art studio and gave a quick overview of how she makes her art. wouterina sculpture garden WI 2015 (39)

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Her gardens were lovely with beautiful poppies poppy orange wi (1)

poppy red wi (1)

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poppy wi (1), veronica veronica wouterina.

wouterina sculpture garden WI 2015 (81) and a whole host of plants.wouterina sculpture garden WI 2015 (98)

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wouterina sculpture garden WI 2015 (122)

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wouterina sculpture garden WI 2015 (169) Not only does she create all the art, but she plants and maintains all the gardens by herself as well. wouterina sculpture garden WI 2015 (1)

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wouterina sculpture garden WI
It was a great way to end the garden conference.

Today has been a busy day of household chores, laundry, etc. When you only have a day to catch up, you have to make it count. Tomorrow Julie and I head to Eureka Springs to meet with the 2016 host committee chair to continue with planning.

And now, for the rest of the story! and a black eye for American Airlines

June 27, 2015
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Thankfully, Julie and I made it back safely today by 11 a.m. and our luggage was waiting for us in LR. That was a blessing. The flight and all the delays, could have been avoided if American Airlines had their act together. I think all travelers understand weather and delays, and big storms hit Dallas early last evening. IMG_0593Many flights got cancelled, and thankfully, ours was not one of them until 2 a.m. when it was too late to do anything about it. But the problem could have been avoided, at least for some of us. When flights started getting cancelled, many were directed to one or two gates for re-ticketing. We had two people in front of our gate who were assisting, and then all of a sudden they disappeared, with hundreds in line waiting. There were active adults, people in wheelchairs, babies in strollers, families and all types of individuals, standing in a line with NO ONE assisting, because their shift had ended, regardless of what was needed. IMG_0605 Notice what it says on the screen–“working together to be the greatest!” They were not working together or with us–their time was up and they took off, not caring who was waiting in line or why.

So hundreds could not get re-ticketed, but even more troubling, is the planes that were on the runway could not get unloaded, because there were no gatekeepers, no one to de-board or board planes. We had flight crews showing up for flights, but they couldn’t get on, because the others couldn’t get off, because there were no workers! The pilots and flight attendants were calling for help over the loudspeakers and via phone calls, but no one came. Finally, a young woman, obviously called in from time off based on her green sundress and sandals came in and tried to help. IMG_0609 A flight to Mississippi, Lexington, KY and one to Cinncinnati finally made it out, but gate changes were constant–we changed gates 6 times before we were eventually cancelled and the Cinncinnati group boarded, then de-boarded and changed gates before leaving.

Our crew to Little Rock, had they been allowed to de-board and re-board, would have been great, but by the time some workers began showing up, it was way after 1 a.m. and some of the flight crew had “timed out” worked past the legal limit to fly. They tried calling in someone to replace him, but they never showed. Had we had regular workers, we would have come and gone hours before. The flight crews were just as upset and frustrated as we were.

Tempers began to flare as hundreds got no support. That doesn’t make anything easier. By 11 p.m. someone brought out some blankets and cots, but our crew thought we were still making it home so we didn’t take advantage of them. When our flight finally got cancelled, it was 2 am and all the neighboring hotels were booked, and we had a return flight that I paid for heading out at 8:45 a.m. We couldn’t get any free flight replacements until mid afternoon, and I had to work today, so that was my best option.

So Julie and I camped out in a chair all night in the airport getting maybe an hour of sleep. IMG_0615 The PA system kept blaring pre-recorded announcements. We saw NO staff from American Airlines trying to help us overnight.

As I walked around the airport, people were camped out everywhere–in doorways, on the bare floor, in fast food restaurant booths, and on cots and in chairs. It sort of looked like a scene from Walking Dead or the day after the Jonestown Massacre. IMG_0612

dallas flight 1.

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After our flight got cancelled, a few of our crew left the airport and rented a car and drove home, but we were too tired to attempt that in the rain.

Frustrating that if people had gone the extra mile (or just done their job) to help, this could have been avoided, but there was NO customer support or care, except for the one young woman and flight crews we saw.

This morning there was a ton of activity as people tried to get new connections. Most flights were overbooked, and gate changes were akin to musical chairs. Our flight kept saying it was ON TIME, but when it said boarding in 1 minute, the worker informed us we were waiting on a flight crew. One hour later and still waiting I asked for an update and was told she had told us. The flight crew finally arrived from Chicago and we boarded and left at 10:00 a.m. arriving in LR by 11 a.m.

Not a pleasant experience and a huge black eye for American Airlines. If I heard it once, I heard it a million times, I will never fly with American again, or there is no leadership from DFW and American Airlines. I am not sure why this happened.

I made it home by 11:30 and showered and changed and headed to Conway for MG training. They had some great speakers, which I missed this morning, but I did get to hear a partial talk on native plants, IMG_0629and I covered Vegetable gardening all afternoon. I headed home in time to switch cars and go to dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary at Acadia. It was a bittersweet dinner, as Acadia (where son Kyle has been sous chef since Feb) announced last week that they are closing on Tuesday, June 30. This has been our go-to restaurant for years, and we are saddened to lose it, and even sadder for Kyle, since this has been his dream job. But as I told Kyle, when one door closes, another opens, so we hope he finds a replacement that can come close to this.

Now I think it is time to sleep!

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