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County 76 April meeting

April 25, 2017

We had another great County 76 MG Advisory meeting today.  We had folks from 22 counties and a lot of work got done.    We embraced the zoom technology and had a few attendees from across the state that listened in for our general session, and then we had two committees that had zoom participation. It was our first start and I think it will continue to grow.   We also had a lot of members who brought silent auction items for our state conference in a few weeks.  Ouida shared some of the new items that County 76 will be selling at the state conference as well.   We also had got some new members.

We are blessed with a strong Master Gardener program and we always welcome good publicity.  A Hot Springs magazine called Her has a great three page spread on the Garland County program.  Congratulations Garland County.

I have finally packed tonight and have printed out my boarding pass, so I think I am ready to leave tomorrow.  I watered plants even though we are supposed to get a nice shower tomorrow.  Things were pretty dry.  I walked the garden to take inventory. Amsonia and itea are bloomingand big leaf hydrangea are already setting big flower buds.   Heuchera also is looking good.

I hope whatever weather we get tomorrow waits until we are out of town and to Galveston.  Looking forward to the Texas MG Conference.

Zoom, Planning, PP and dinner

April 24, 2017

We continue to utilize zoom as a tool to meet. Today we had a great meeting with our director Rick while he was in Louisiana and the rest of our horticulture staff was in LR.  It was a very productive meeting.  Julie and I then tried to finish up all the necessary things for tomorrows 2nd quarterly County 76 meeting. We have most of the stuff we need already downstairs which should make for an easier start tomorrow. It is always somewhat frenzied if we can’t pre-set up.

In the midst of all this activity, my cell phone crashed and did not reboot.  I had no cell phone for hours! I was in withdrawal.  Our fabulous IT guru Buff, pulled out the sim card and put it back in and it came back to life. Perhaps too many apps were open (who knew you had to close them!). I have been ready for an upgrade for over 2 years but I am in the minority and like to stick with the smaller phone I know–(or thought I knew). I now know how to close apps!    How many of you knew this?  Maybe I am in the minority here.

I created two new power points this weekend which I have had a great time creating and I tweaked a bit more today. One was on the Vietnam/Cambodia trip which I am presenting tomorrow and the other is Garden Inspirations from Travel for the Texas MG cruise this week. I have had a great time revisiting all the amazing trips we have taken with Master Gardeners. The hardest part has been in trying to limit what pictures to add.  I can’t wait to present it.  If you have not taken a MG trip in Arkansas, there is still time to sign up for the Rhine River Cruise.  We have about half the boat sold but we can take 150 people.  Here is the link:

We have seen so much, from thousands of new plants, garden design, meeting with head gardeners in so many gardens, new cultures, garden history, new food and how it is grown, and just learning about each other. It is amazing how well you get to know each other when you travel together for a week or two.

We left the office a bit late and I got home to check on kitchen progress before heading to dinner with good friends.  We had an excellent meal al fresco at Capers.

We chose this restaurant since Mary Beth Ringgold was the Diamond Chef winner this year and it is one of three of her restaurants and my personal favorite.  She was sitting at a table next to us. Martha Ray had to go talk to her.   I made it home in time for the spraying of the kitchen cabinet stain to begin.    They worked late tonight since they want to get the stain done, the finish on and the painting done by Wednesday when the countertops come.  The dogs were thrilled I was home so they could come in to our part of the house.  They waited patiently for me while I was taking pictures. 

The house is still a tad fragrant!  Tomorrow we have almost 70 coming from across the state for our County 76 meeting.  Can’t wait!

A Day in the Garden

April 23, 2017

What a glorious day it was! It was quite cool this morning, but warmed up nicely this afternoon. It was a great day to spend in the garden.  I had a lot to get done. I used two batteries full of weed-eaters to edge all the gardens and cut tall weeds (our lawn mower is still not fixed).  I planted the tomatoes and peppers I bought yesterday and I also planted lily bulbs I bought weeks ago and planted a few shrubs. I fertilized, deadheaded and watered.  I also bought my first batch of mulch today and mulched several beds.  I have a bloom on my nasturtium that I grew from seeds. My blueberries are loaded, and the pomegranate is blooming   along with the first blooms on the pineapple guava. I have the first blooms on the water lilies  and the summer spirea are blooming.

And a real surprise is my orchid. I typically buy them, enjoy them for 6-8 weeks then toss the plant.  For some reason, I kept this one after it bloomed and put it in the front window seat in my spare bedroom, and forgot about it. I am not sure how often it even got any water.  A few weeks ago I noticed some buds and then voila, today the blooms are open.   Definitely a tough survivor!

The garden is looking good.  It could use a lot more of my time, but it does well with what it has.  If you have camellias or azaleas and they are forming some thick, waxy leaves, it is azalea/camellia leaf gall. It is most common in a cool, wet spring.  It looks worse than it is.  I picked mine off today and threw them away.    I also have a few seed pods that have gotten quite large on my camellia japonica.  I won’t grow any from seed, but they will grow. 

Miss Petals loves helping me in the garden, or at least running around wherever I am.   Hard to believe she will be a year old next month.

It has been a great day in the garden, and I have also done my laundry and am almost packed for my trip this week.



Blackberry winter, plant sales, meetings, and fun

April 22, 2017

Today was a true blackberry winter.  This term came about before the weatherman could show digital weather maps and explain where cold fronts were heading in, but typically when the blackberries were in bloom, a late cold snap would occur. In my yard, my blackberries have finished blooming and have set an abundance of fruit,  but I could call it raspberry winter, because my raspberries are in full bloom.   Maybe the folklore weather hasn’t been in touch with global warming!  Whatever the case it was a cold day today! If I had been home tonight I would have had a fire in the fireplace.  I was lucky that I had an indoor plant sale to attend today.

The White County Master Gardeners held their first ever plant sale today at the Carmichael Center and it was a roaring success.  They had excellent plants and were well-organized.   County Agent Sherri Sanders was even in attendance with a torn meniscus.   They had some great plant ideas, such as a 4-pack with 4 different plants to create your own mixed container.   and they had some planted mixed containers.  They had folks on hand to answer questions and to take soil samples. They also had a seminar room, where I spoke on good plants for the garden, and featured many of the plants they were selling.   White County MG’s should be proud of this obvious successful event.

Since it was too cold to work outside, and my house is a construction zone, I spent the afternoon writing columns and finishing up Power Points for the coming weeks. I am presenting a program next week for the Texas MG state conference which they are holding on a short cruise out of Galveston.  I also typed up my notes from our meeting at the Doubletree yesterday with the hotel staff concerning our 2017 MG conference.   By the time I had finished all of that, it was time to head to supper club. We had a fun evening with friends.

Technology, meetings, birthday and plants

April 20, 2017

It has been a busy two days. Yesterday was my birthday and I had a slew of emails, facebook greetings, phone calls and face-to-face wishes. It was so nice to be remembered by so many.  It was a fun day.  It was also the second of our online zoom session for County Agents.  What’s Up? Wednesdays  is an opportunity for the horticulture specialists to talk to the agents across the state monthly, updating them on what we are seeing on plants across the state and talk about solutions. Each month a mini-seminar is shared as well. This information is then available for agents to use in their county programming. It went very well. While we were zooming on the 3rd floor, Julie and crew were zooming in the zoom lab over in the annex.  They were meeting with MG online record keeping managers. They had 28 folks on the call. Isn’t technology great!

We also got out a short online survey to Master Gardener volunteers so we can update our demographics. This will help when working on grant applications, going for sponsorship and just promoting and evaluating the program. If you have not done the survey, I urge you to do so.  Julie sent it out via constant contact yesterday afternoon.  If you need the link, let me know.

I also worked on PowerPoints for my talk today, Saturday and next Tuesday.  I think I have the majority of them done. I am presenting at County 76 on our trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, and it was hard to narrow down what to show.

Then last night I had a great dinner with my family.

Today I spent half a day at the office and then spent the rest of the day in Hot Springs at the Garland County monthly MG meeting. It was a pretty day for a drive, and they had a large turn-out for their monthly meeting.  A few folks were eating lunch when I got there, and others were having a committee meeting, before the rest arrived in time for the meeting.   Garland County really does a great job of recognizing their volunteers.  They started off with Peeling the Onion–president Claudette called on a few random members and had them tell why they joined MG and to tell us something about themselves that most people don’t know.  When a group gets large it is hard to get to know everyone personally, so this is a great idea.  This was also their meeting to recognize members who have volunteered 200 or more hours in this year.  They had a slew of them that were recognized.  Gene Lichliter, MG extraordinaire got a pin and a shirt for 200 + hours for 10 YEARS!  Many more had multiple years of giving that many hours.  Each person received a small trowel pin to add to their nametags and t-shirts for 1, 5 and 10 years of doing so.   They also recognized the outstanding contribution of their new members.   We could all learn a lot from this example. They were laughing and celebrating each other’s achievements.  That is what this program is all about.

The meeting did run a little long as there were some interesting discussions about possibly changing their venue.  Things got a bit heated at times and some were better at parliamentary procedure than others.  It is great that so many people care so passionately about their program.  I think it is important that we remember that while we may not all agree on how we do things, we need to be open to listening to each other’s opinions and weighing the options.

I got home and walked the garden. While rain is predicted possibly tomorrow, I did water pots and vegetables.  The garden is growing well. I have broccoli coming on and I harvested a nice salad for dinner tonight.   My alstroemeria lily is about to bloom, but I did spot one sprout of a green plant in the center.  You need to watch that, since a variegated plant can revert back to green if you allow it to happen.  I will prune it out this weekend.   The confederate jasmine is giving off an intoxicating aroma.   I adore this evergreen vine.  I also have itea in full bloom along with roses, summer spirea and annuals.  The lycoris foliage is beginning to die back, so it will be about 6 weeks when the naked ladies should appear.

I was prepping my dinner in the little bathroom, and noticed ants had found the sugar canister. They never found it in the kitchen, but they found it in a bathroom that never had food it in before.  How do they do that?  I threw away the sugar and killed as many of the ants as I found. Hopefully they will disappear again!



Russellville MG training and projects, kitchen update

April 18, 2017

It was a gloomy, foggy and wet drive this morning to Russellville for MG training.  They had one of the largest classes they have had for a while and it was a great group of volunteers.   Pope County is almost doubling their group size. I am excited for them. They have several outstanding projects and some great leaders. I saw the raised bed gardens outside the extension office today. They are converting them from vegetables to flowers and herbs since they don’t get quite enough sun.     In one of the beds they had a great collection of intentionally planted columbine, but in another bed were some very showy, but volunteer pink blooming annual clover. A new component is a root viewing station built by Master Gardener and Master Carpenter Frank!     I get excited seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of the seasoned and new volunteers.

This garden is in a very focal spot in downtown Russellville.  Across the street is a small owl garden. Not sure if it is a home or public site.  The large catalpa tree at the front of the property was in full bloom and spectacular.   A fisherman’s dream!

Driving to and from Russellville, the roadsides are interplanted with some wildflowers. I have seen red clover and Indian pinks, but today was a glorious mix of showy evening primrose.   They look great in this situation, but in  a home landscape they can be a tad aggressive!

I had meetings this afternoon and did get some office work done.  I got home to some new improvements to the kitchen. I have cabinet doors and a sampling of paint colors.  Getting excited!

Now in addition to having no kitchen to cook in, I have to navigate the maze of dropcloths which are covering doorways trying to keep some of the dust to a minimum. I applaud their efforts! I am really mastering my new grill and tonight even made sudo-potato pancakes on the a grill pan to go with burgers and fresh strawberries.  Tasty!

Office, planning and RAIN!

April 17, 2017

It was an overcast day as I got ready and it started thundering before I left for the office. At times we had some torrential downpours, but so far it has amounted to less than 1/4 inch of rain at my house, but I will take it. The rain also kept it cooler today and hopefully washed off more pollen. We have not consistently had the air conditioning on (not for need) but because the contractor says he is in and out so much that it would not be efficient, so the house felt great tonight when I got home.  So the dust from construction combined with the pollen has made my house a living mess!  Are you all seeing a prodigious amount of catkins falling along with yellow pollen? We are blowing off the deck every few days, but once we finish, it is like it was never done!  Since our season is early maybe our mess will end early as well!

I had a full day at the office today with a bit over half of it spent in our last official planning session for the 2017 State MG conference before the volunteer walk through.  This committee is the first to think of a staggered conference with individual committee chairs at staggered times instead of the whole committee being there throughout. It makes for a much more efficient use of time for the committee chairman’s time.     We finalized registration on Friday and now we put the final touches on everything. It is going to be an outstanding conference and the Pulaski County folks have outdone themselves with all their hard work.

Everyone keeps talking about how early our season is and how far ahead of schedule the blooms are. I was surprised to see flower heads forming on big leaf hydrangea and milkweed this weekend.    I have had reports of milkweed already blooming in gardens and we have seen early blooming echinacea (coneflowers) and rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan’s) 

If you have spring blooming shrubs that have finished blooming, now is the time to prune them.  Be selective in your pruning. Don’t just shear them into meatball shapes.  I did a lot of pruning this past weekend and have more to go. I have loropetalum that have gone crazy.  The goal is not to remove more than 1/3 of the plant at any given time. I didn’t even get close, but I need to take off more. I also pruned azaleas, camellias and some hollies.  Try to get all pruning done of spring bloomers by mid June.   Make sure they are finished blooming, but prune as quickly as they finish as possible.

It is now safe to move houseplants outside.  I moved a palm outside a couple of weeks ago and it obviously got too much sun its first week out.  This is the result:

Gradually expose them to sunlight. Remember they have been sheltered indoors for the winter.  I will prune out the damaged growth, as new fresh fronds are already appearing.

There is so much to do in the garden, the problem is finding the time to do it!


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