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Texarkana and a cooler day

May 2, 2016
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I was so busy yesterday I never even looked at the forecast so I was surprised by the early cool temps and rain! We had .18 inches of rain today and the temperature never got above 69. Even though the air conditioner is on, the windows are open and it is delightful outside. When I got home tonight it was cooler outside than inside!

I drove to Texarkana today to meet with the Miller County Red Dirt board and some members of their oversight committee for the farmers market. We are trying to find a solution that best meets the needs of both groups and I think we had a very productive meeting and ended with some positive goals and plans. miller county may16 (1)

miller county may16 (3) I am expecting great things to happen.

It was an easy drive back and the rain had cleared out. I made a stop for some groceries before heading home and stopped in at the garden center. I saw an olive tree for sale–supposedly hardy to 0 degrees F. I did not buy one, but may go back and get one just to try–I do love olives. olive tree may16 (2) Has anyone tried one with success in Arkansas year-round outdoors?

I do want to share with you the name of the mystery tropical I bought Saturday in Fayetteville. westwood apr164 Of course our top-notch plant expert Ann Wood got the name correct–it is commonly called Violet Tubeflower –Iochroma (eye-oh-KROH-muh). This native to South America has hummingbird pollinated flowers which are tubular or trumpet-shaped, and may be blue, purple, red, yellow, or white. This variety called ‘Sunset’ looks pretty close to orange to me–and I need it! iochroma sunset The plant may grow as tall as 60 inches and will hopefully bloom all summer in full sun. I will let you know.

I have also seen some interesting galls on oaks this spring–unusual, but nothing to worry about. gall on oak.ap162

I also saw one of the most unique hostas this weekend. hosta westwood.a6 Any guesses on a variety name? Curly fries!

If you haven’t been to a nursery lately, go! There are so many new plants and things to try.

And for all my nurses out there–I had to share: when nurses garden This is what happens when nurses garden!!

A full day of gardening!

May 1, 2016
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I slept in a bit later than normal after a late night, but after doing some email and bill paying, I was outside gardening by 9:30 and I didn’t stop until 5 p.m. I started off weed-eating the entire front and side yard, then I decided to begin renovation of the vegetable garden. I pulled 90% of the lettuce, kale and Swiss chard. I had five sink fulls of greens, that I cleaned, then dried, then stored. We will be eating a lot of greens in the next few weeks. kale.may1.161

kale.may1.162

lettuce harvest may1.16

swiss chard.may1 (1) I was doing the cleaning without my glasses when I noticed a caterpillar, and then I got glasses to clean the rest. I found about 5, but I am sure I missed some on the early batches. It was only on the red ursa kale. caterpillar kale.may1.162
After I cleaned out some of the beds, I added some compost, turned the soil and started replanting. I got some tomatoes, peppers and eggplant planted today, but I do need a few more peppers and tomatoes. my garden may1.166
I pulled out all the pansies and violas and started planting summer annuals. I took out the dogwood this spring and now that front bed has a whole lot more sun. Not sure how the shade lovers will fare this summer. I rethought the front plantings and put in some petunias, vinca and sunpatiens in the front bed,my garden may1.161

my garden may1.162and then the shade loving orange impatiens to the side. I also planted a few pentas and zahara orange zinnias in the side yard. I pulled weeds and thinned out the toad lily. I love tricyrtis (toad lily) but it loves my garden and is getting out of control and spreading like crazy. I thinned out a third, and it needs at least another third to go. my garden may1.164 It is spreading into other perennials all around it.

I weeded, mulched, fertilized, and finally watered. Even though we have had ample rain, the new plants needed to get their feet wet. my garden may1.165
The yard is coming together. Now if I just had about 7 more days to devote to it! my garden may1.167

my garden may1.168

my garden may1.169
So much is in bloom from roses rose oso easy.may1.to iteaitea may1.162 to confederate jasmineconfederate jasmine may1.161 and summer spirea. spirea may1.162 Towards the end of the day, I surprised a chipmunk in a pot and he jumped at me. I am not sure who was more surprised or alarmed, as he jumped off me into the bush. At the same time that he hit, my fitbit vibrated to let me know I had my 10,000 steps which just added to the excitement.
After a shower and clean clothes, I tackled a new dinner meal. Someone had given us some quail breasts, so we had pan seared quail over creamy polenta and grilled/charred Swiss chard, kale and asparagus with a mustard cream sauce. It turned out pretty well. dinner may1.161

dinner may1.162

dinner may1.164

Now I think I will spend a little time with the heating pad!

NW Arkansas to Paul McCartney

May 1, 2016
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What a full day it was today. I drove up to Fayetteville yesterday after a zoom session at the officezoom session.16 We had rain off and on all day–we had over 4 inches at my house. I got to stay with good friends Gerald and Jolene and we had a great visit. I did get to see Gerald’s garden this morning and it was not raining, but it was overcast. geralds yard apr162 He has a beautiful garden and some great plants, including these trilliumtrilliums gerald.161

trilliums gerald.162 and a large kolkwitzia (Beauty bush)kolkwitzia.apr16. He even has his own lending library he built at the edge of his property. geralds yard apr163
And speaking of libraries, my first stop was the Fayetteville Public Library where I was presenting a program on new plants. This facility is top-notch. fay library apr1601

fay library apr1603

fay library apr1604 I was quite impressed that they also lend gardening tools!fay library apr1602
I had a nice crowd with plenty of questions. fay library apr1610
I couldn’t dawdle after I spoke, since I finished at 11 and I was speaking in Bentonville at noon. I hopped in the car and headed to Benton County. I did get to see (from my car) both the Fayetteville and Bentonville Farmers Markets. They were in full swing with a big crowd. benton co farmers market.ap1603

fay farmers market.16ap2 Interestingly enough, it never rained in Fayetteville this morning, but they had a steady light rain in Bentonville for their plant sale. In spite of the rain, they had a nice crowd. benton co expo.apr1601

benton co expo.apr1602

benton co expo.apr1606 After I spoke on butterfly gardening, I got to speak with some local girl scouts who are putting in a butterfly garden for one of their projects. benton co expo.apr1604
As I was heading back to LR, I popped into Westwood Gardens to look for a clematis for a friend. They didn’t have the variety she is looking for, but my oh my did they have the plants. It was hard to leave. columbine westwood.apr16

tropicals westwood.162

westwood apr161 I did buy a new tropical–westwood apr164 Does anyone know what it is? I will tell you soon.

I made it home in time to unload and freshen up before we walked out the door to meet friends for dinner before heading to the Paul McCartney concert. What fun! It was a sold-out crowd. pmcrowd.1There was quite a bit of security heading in and huge lines for t-shirts. pmcrowd

pmgoing in. He played a lot of old Beatles songs as well as some of his Wings and newer songs. pm1

pm2

pm5Pretty amazing that someone who is almost 74 years old could sing almost non-stop for 3 hours. I never saw him even take a sip of water! We saw a lot of friend tonight. It really was a good concert, and he did not disappoint. Towards the end he brought some folks up from the audience and one couple was from Japan, and he proposed to his girlfriend on stage. pm8
We have seen some concerts with older bands that did not live up to their younger days, but Paul McCartney gave us our money’s worth! Well done. paul mc

Garvan and a glorious spring

April 28, 2016
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Spring is about to give way to summer, but what a spring it has been. No late frosts, and a mild winter has resulted in a glorious spring display. Today that was not more evident in the color that abounded at Garvan Gardens. It was a tad cool when I arrived a bit before 9 a.m., but if you were standing in the sun, it still felt warm. The snapdragons and dianthus are amazing right now in the gardens. snapdragons garvan.arp161

dianthus garvan apr.16 The rhododendrons were in their glory rhododendrons apr.16garv2

rhododendrons apr.16garv4

rhododendrons apr.16garv6 along with roses, peonies and roses garvan apr.162

roses garvan apr.163

peony garvan apr.16

As I awaited my crew this morning, George the Peacock, gave me quite a show. He was in his full regalia and just kept turning around in front of me, showing off. peacock garvan apr.1605

peacock garvan apr.1607

peacock garvan apr.1608

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peacock garvan apr.1611

peacock garvan apr.1612 He rotated around ten times before I walked away. How spectacular!
The gardens are transitioning from winter color–pansies and tulips to summer color. garvan apr16 (16)
The Gardens of the Pine Winds are reopened with paved cart paths and new rock work down by the koi pond. garvan apr16 (18)

garvan apr16 (19)

garvan apr16 (20) James and Sherre were deep in thought working on the best shot here. garvan apr16 (21)
And new for the summer is an art installation: Brushwood Dance: An Art Installation by W. Gary Smith. Today I saw numerous Master Gardeners from around the state helping with this new project. garvan apr16 (10)

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It was a beautiful day at the gardens. If you need garden inspiration, you need to plan a visit.

Office and celebrations

April 27, 2016
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Today was Administrative Professionals Day, and we were happy to honor Holly holly apr27.16as well as Scarlett and Sabrina on our floor. Holly keeps us organized and we couldn’t do it without her! We started off with bakery goodies, then a pizza lunch and to top off the day, Holly and Julie took me out for my birthday celebration. Holly has been under the weather with that cough that so many have had this season which lingers forever. She wasn’t 100% tonight but she wanted to go, so we did. It was one of the best meals out I have had in a while. I had never been to Table 28 and it was very good. julie,holly and me apr16

In between all the celebrating, it was an extremely busy day at the office. I even ate my piece of pizza at my desk trying to get things done. The phone was ringing off the wall all day. Spring has definitely sprung and the season has been a glorious one so far. The rain that was 100% forecast earlier in the week was non-existent at my house, but I heard they had some pretty good storms in NW. All the plants I have purchased and not planted, were bone dry by the time I made it home, so I spent the past 30 minutes watering even though it is getting dark. I leave early tomorrow for Garvan to tape TV so I won’t have time to do it then either.
I found a dwarf bottlebrush plant (Callistemon) bottle brush dwarf apr24.16 and some of my favorite Zahara orange zinnias on my way home from Texas Monday. zahara orange zinnias apr.16 I also have flats of annuals that I need to get planted. I hope to have time on Sunday.periwinkle apr24.16 This is a busy time of year for a horticulturist, and it is hard to find time to garden at home.

As I was sitting down to write this I had some texts. I am heading to Fayetteville on Friday and staying with my good friends the Klingaman’s. Somehow we got our wires crossed and they thought I was coming tonight and were getting worried about me. I felt terrible! But I am looking forward to seeing them Friday. Saturday morning I am speaking at the Fayetteville Library from 10-11 and then I speak at the Benton County MG lawn and garden expo and plant sale from 12-1. benton county lawn and garden expo.apr.15.07 Last year they had wonderful weather, so I hope the forecast is wrong for them this weekend–rain is predicted Friday and Saturday. There are MG plant sales happening all over the state! As I said a busy season! Go out and buy plants!

Stellar volunteers!

April 26, 2016
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Today was the second quarterly meeting of our MG statewide advisory group– County 76. Our meetings continue to grow in size and the enthusiasm and work they accomplish is awe-inspiring. Today we had close to 70 volunteers from over 20 counties across the state–from as far north as Fayettville, to the southeast El Dorado, the SW Mena and the NE Jonesboro and West Memphis–then all parts in between! county 76 apr meeting (4)

county 76 apr meeting (12) We started off collecting items for the silent auction for the state conference, and we could have held our own silent auction today with the volume and quality of items brought in.county 76 apr meeting (2)

county 76 apr meeting (18)

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county 76 apr meeting (21) Julie was in awe too! LOL.

Remember, the silent auction is only from 1- 5:20 p.m. on the first day of our conference June 2. All proceeds go to deferring registration cost for PNG Leadership and any overage goes to the Janet Carson scholarship fund. We ask that each county bring at least 2 items, but more are welcome.
We got a lot accomplished today and so much is happening across the state! We just finished one advanced training and another one is happening this Friday. The Annual to Perennial event for new trainees is slated and details should be going out this week. We also had photos taken today of all members for a pictorial directory, county 76 apr meeting (5) and the training committee provided us with a delicious lunch. county 76 apr meeting (6)

county 76 apr meeting (7)
Committees met after lunch and then we all reconvened to hear the reports. county 76 apr meeting (10)

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county 76 apr meeting (9)

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I am blessed to have such dedicated volunteers who strive every day to make our program better. It was a packed day, but it flew by.

I did have time to look at the garden tonight. The itea itea blooms apr (1)is blooming nicely along with amsoniaamsonia blue ice apr24 (2), roses rose drift pink apr24.16rose oso easy yellow.apr16and I saw the first blooms on baptisia. baptisia apr24 (2)

I have flowers opening on pomegranatepomegranate blooms apr24 (2) and blooms on the raspberries.raspberry blooms ap2.16 The blueberries are coming along fine. blueberries apr24 (2)

I stopped by my son’s house tonight to check on his garden’s progress, but it was getting too dark to take any good photos. He has loads of apples on his espaliered 6 variety fruit tree, blueberries, plus blooms on pomegranate, blackberries and raspberries. He has already harvested quite a few strawberries with more to go. I will try to get photos maybe on Sunday when I have time. What fun!
Tomorrow I have a day at the office, but it is also administrative professionals day and we will be honoring our favorite Administrative Professional Holly! holly apr25.16

A very busy weekend

April 25, 2016
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My youngest niece is getting married in a month and her first wedding shower was yesterday. Katie and I traveled to Dallas (Arlington) for the weekend to participate in the festivities. Sunday was a full day. We got to see and advise on the prayer garden at my sister’s church before services.prayer garden tx.163 They have mainly native plants, with some non-natives thrown in. The oakleaf hydrangea was beginning to bloom oakleaf hydrangea ap16 txand the Texas native Horseherb prayer garden tx.161Calyptocarpus vialis was spreading quite prolifically. Depending on your point of view, Horseherb or Straggler Daisy is a pest or a welcome, shade-tolerant groundcover that tolerates moderate foot traffic. In a cold winter it will be deciduous, but it did not stop this winter in Arlington and is getting a tad aggressive.
After church, we went home to eat lunch, and then load up and head to the shower. It was a lovely event with many wonderful gifts for the bride-to-be. whitney shower apr24.1648 plus great food and discussions.whitney shower apr24.1613

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whitney shower apr24.1632 In the many photos that were taken by me and many others, I somehow forgot to get one with me and Katie with the bride. I hope someone else did, but I don’t think so. The shower was hosted by Linda’s college friends. whitney shower apr24.1669 We helped clean up and load up after the shower.whitney shower apr24.1673

whitney shower apr24.1674

I did see some examples of crape murder, Texas style. crape murder tx.16
We did see more fields of wildflowers between Arlington and Waxahachie. There were still quite a few bluebonnets in bloom, but the grass was getting taller than they were, but the Indian paintbrush plants were everywhere. wildflowers apr24.tz3We made it back to Arlington, unloaded and had a short turn-around before heading to Dallas for dinner with the bride and groom to be. It was a delightful evening but we were all pooped when we made it home.

Katie and I loaded up this morning and after a few stops to look at plants, (we bought a few) we were home by early evening. We unloaded and I did a grocery store run and finally had time to walk my garden. The yard looks great! I wish I had the time and/or energy to plant, since rain is headed our way this week.

Tomorrow we have more than 60 coming in for our quarterly County 76 meeting.

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