It was a beautiful and cool morning, even in south Arkansas. I picked up a newspaper to read as I was doing breakfast at the hotel and was surprised to see an ad for my new book. I have not seen a proof yet, nor did I know what the book looked like or was titled! Surprise! Can’t wait to see it.
Today I was the speaker at the Union County EHC holiday foods event. My topic was holiday plants. They had a large crowd and a ton of door prizes. Their decorations were outstanding, and this one was all fresh fruits and vegetables.
After all the presentations, everyone got to sample the holiday foods. Then I went with some of the MG’s who were in attendance to go see the South Arkansas Arboretum. It looks great with a ton of butterflies and blooming plants, along with loads of pumpkins. The bush morningglory and the porter weed were both in full bloom and doing great. Neither of these are reliablily winter hardy so they take cuttings before a frost.
One of the most unusual plants in her garden is an annual hibiscus commonly called Roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa. The calyx of the spent flower turns bright red and has seeds inside. This is edible and quite showy. Native from India to Malaysia seeds are said to have been brought to the New World by African slaves. It is also called red sorrel, Jamaican sorrel, sour-sour and Florida cranberry. In the kitchen, this hibiscus is delicious when tossed into fruit salads, used to garnish ice cream, thrown into tart and pie fillings, and blended into jams and jellies. This nutritious plant even makes up a popular side dish when served with ground peanuts in regions of Africa. When steeped into an infusion, it’s transformed into a tart-tasting tea that is loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C. I think I need some, but you must save seeds. I wonder if you couldn’t harvest some stems before a frost and root them like we can the confederate rose. Might need to try that!
The latter two are screened from the rest of the garden, but what a potting bench!
I enjoyed my visit and loaded up and headed home. I was home by 4:15 and watered my garden, picked okra and peppers and did laundry. Tonight should be good sleeping weather with the windows open. It is supposed to be a low of 48!
My what a day! I am so impressed with the Advanced MG training that the Greene County Master Gardeners put on today, and I didn’t even get to stay for the full afternoon sessions. I think the evaluations will bear me out on this one. They were highly organized with a full lineup of top-notch speakers, notebooks and thumb drives and of course excellent food. Lori Spencer kicked us off , followed by Jack Singleton, then me, Ruth Andre and Theia Foley and finished by Dr. Don Steinkraus. Topics included monarchs and metamorphosis, monarchs in Mexico, monarch tagging and release, designing a butterfly garden, monarchs and their role in the ecosystem and constraints on monarch populations. Folks got to try their hand at monarch tagging.
After a delicious lunch we went outside and released all the tagged monarchs. We had over 80 MGs from 19 counties. The enthusiasm of the students and their eagerness to learn and share their knowledge continues to amaze me. I am so glad I work with such fabulous volunteers. I had to leave after the monarch release to drive to El Dorado for a program tomorrow morning. A long drive, but a good day for driving.
It has been a glorious day, both with exciting educational opportunities and weather-wise. Clear skies and cool, crisp air. I hope it lasts!
On a sadder note, today we lost one of our longtime MG members. Judy Hollowell formerly of Saline County, who was instrumental in our state conference there in 2015, and a fellow traveler to France, Costa Rica and Italy, died this morning from cancer. Judy had moved to Arizona soon after the 2015 conference to be closer to her daughter and grandson, but always kept in touch with her Arkansas folks. She was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in August and lost the battle this morning. All who knew Judy loved her. She always had a smile on her face and was willing to help. She will be missed by many and our thoughts are with her family.
I have not had much time to spend at the office lately so today was a blur of activity. I got several columns written, with pictures sent, worked on and/or completed 5 powerpoint presentations, did some reports, planned upcoming schedules, and caught up on phone calls. My plan was to head north to Paragould by 1 pm, but I wasn’t on the road until after 2:30 and had not completed my to-do list! I met up with some county 76 board members for dinner, then went to a reception for the speakers for tomorrows monarch butterfly advanced Master Gardener class.
Over 80 MGs who have been MGs for 3 or more years will be in attendance. Many of them drove up tonight since registration begins at 8.
I was at Garvan Gardens by 9 this morning to shoot the last of our TV segments for the year. Garvan Gardens looks the best it has in a while. It is a sea of fall color! They have over 5,000 mums in all stages and the color is glorious. But mums aren’t the only thing going. They have a nice collection of salvias in all sizes and colors and today they were all in peak bloom and alive with bees and butterflies. While they are planting the pansies, violas and snapdragons for winter color, some of the summer annuals like these sunpatiens are still going strong. Add to this, the camellias are beginning to put on their show and there are roses, and ginger blooming too. To put the icing on the cake are the showy fall displays of pumpkins, corn and hay bales scattered throughout the gardens.
It was a tad too warm for October 19, but a beautiful day in the gardens! You need to go visit. I will have to admit, that although I think power tools are the expeditious way to clean up leaves and trim and edge gardens, I now understand why the gardens in Cornwall/Wales did without these modern devices. I think you go to a garden to enjoy nature and walk and enjoy the sounds of nature, but the glaring noise from a power blower/weedeater/garden tractor can take away from the enjoyment or totally eradicate any nature sounds. Food for thought!
After taping our shows it was back to the office for some catch-up, a meeting concerning on-line registration before an early meeting on the state conference special events. It has been a full, but enjoyable day.
We were down off the mountain before the sun rose, since half had to be back at work this morning. I took the day off and caught up on email and did finish a couple of PowerPoints. The recent rains should help our fall color, but cooler temperatures would sure be nice. The leaves are beginning to turn. We saw some hickories that were turning golden and in the distance you can see shades of color. The Eastern red cedar trees are loaded with berries. The overcast skies today kept the temperature from getting to the predicted 89 and I only got up to 83. Really cool temperatures and rain are predicted for Thursday and I am ready!
My Camellia sinensis (the one you get tea from) is blooming and loaded with buds. One of these days I am going to experiment with making my own green tea from it. I also harvested more figs today and my lettuce is coming on strong. It is ready for picking too.
Tomorrow morning I head to Garvan Gardens to tape the last TV spots of the year.
We have had a relaxing few days, hiking, communing with nature [and deer], cooking, eating, and reading. Great time with friends and a replenishing of energy.
Today we loaded up to join our friends at Mt Nebo State Park for two nights. Kids are minding dogs and holding down the fort at home. Driving up it was 10 degrees cooler here than down in the valley. We have a great cabin.
We had our first fire of the season.
And a gorgeous sunset.
A very relaxing evening and a fun day will happen tomorrow.