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To Lubbock, Texas

September 20, 2018
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Did you know that Texas is a very large state?  We had an easy but long drive from Little Rock to Lubbock, Texas today.  There is a lot of wide open spaces, flat land, and we went many miles seeing little but cows, mesquite trees and horses. drive to lubbock.sept18 (16) We also saw 75 oil well pumping units, and hundreds of wind turbines.  The wind farms were everywhere we looked. drive to lubbock.sept18 (4)drive to lubbock.sept18 (10)

We had to stop in Muenster, Texas and stop in at Fischer’s Meat Market which was advertised as being the first German meat market in town, open since 1927 specializing in homemade sausages, cheeses and spices.  We of course bought some muenster cheese and assorted sausages to bring back.  The small main street was decorated to look like a German village.  Great fun. drive to lubbock.sept18 (7)drive to lubbock.sept18 (12)

Then we were back on the road and made it into town in good time.  The clouds opened up and showed us the end was in sight. drive to lubbock.sept18 (1)We checked into our hotel, and Texas Tech horticulturist and floral design professor had a gorgeous floral arrangement waiting for each of us! flowers.lubbock (1)The grand treatment for sure.

We have plans to tour the campus tomorrow and see the sights of Lubbock.  The field day is slated for Saturday and I speak at 12:30 before we head to Dallas.  Rain is predicted tomorrow both here and Saturday at home.  Have you seen the forecast with the temperatures for Saturday?  They are 70 for a high here tomorrow.  I quickly repacked this morning when I saw the change.  I am ready for fall temperatures.

This morning as I was backing out of the driveway I saw some surprise lilies (Lycoris radiata).  lycoris.sept20.18They were truly a surprise as I never have had them before and did not plant any.  Surprise!!

I also got this picture in my emailLucy, Cindy,Charles. and Rosemary.18

They asked if I could identify the people and I wrote back, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln!  Lucy, Cindy (my friend and college roommate), Charles and Rosemary are all on a group tour of the Dakotas together out of Fort Smith.  That is on my bucket list.

PNG is a wrap!

September 19, 2018
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Today started with a welcome from Vice President of Agriculture Dr. Mark Cochran and a Q & A with some excellent discussion.  Dr. Cochran wowed our audience and it was a great discussion.   After a great start, we had three concurrent break-out sessions before lunch and then our PNG was a wrap!  I think we can safely say, PNG 2018 was a huge success!  Counties that are not participating, are really missing out.  Mark your calendars now for Friday and Saturday, August 23 & 24, 1019 for the next PNG event!

Our 2019 State Conference leaders had the opportunity to meet with many of their committees and they are planning spectacular events next April. 

Our committee wrapped up our event, loaded cars and trucks and were out of the 4-H center by mid-afternoon.  I took a load to the office, then made it home with time to water.  96 degrees is way too hot! and my gardens needed water.  I am ready for fall weather and a break in this weather!

I have done laundry, but am not 100% packed yet, but Julie and I leave in the morning for Lubbock, Texas.  Petals (my dog) is not too happy that the suitcase is getting repacked.

PNG

September 18, 2018
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A Master Gardener program starts with volunteers interested in gardening, but for a program to flourish it takes strong leaders and volunteers who understand the goals and the guidelines of the program. Today and ending tomorrow after lunch 200+ volunteers from all across the state are getting rejuvenated, recharged and educated. The enthusiasm, the committment and the camaraderie of these volunteers was quite evident today. This year the PNG team got purple shirts to identify the workers and they have been doing an amazing job, led by chair Joan.

People began pouring in mid-morning and we were ready. Silent auction was primed for items, registration was set, and Holly was on hand to sell calendars, shirts and books. She did a booming business. Ouida had quite the County 76 store of items for sale and was doing a booming business as well.Buff had all our rooms equipment ready and Julie was on hand to help answer questions. After a great lunch, president Linda kicked us off in the auditorium. We had an opening session, followed by breakout sessions, an engaging series of round table discussions, and more breakout sessions. Topics covered projects, mentoring, money management, web sites, zooming, and more.

The silent auction ended as dinner began and after eating and a competitive and fun game of garden trivia, people picked up their silent auction items and headed to bed. Tomorrow is an early start.

A question was asked this morning how many new trainees were in attendance and the number was large, evenly divided by face-to-face trainees, zoom and on line trainees. I am thrilled that our new training opportunities are providing us with active members. One new online trainee told me how pleased she is with the program. She said she had no idea the scope of the program and it was the best volunteer opportunity she has participated in!

Today was an amazing day, and tomorrow will be icing on the cake. I am honored to have been associated with such caring and dedicated volunteers for 30 years of my 38 year career! I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 30 years.

PNG Leadership is almost here!

September 18, 2018
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I do think summer has reared its ugly head again.  It has gotten hot and humid and it was not great weather to work outside.  I did spend time working to finish up some programs, and I also worked at the Senior Expo at the Statehouse Convention Center.

They had a nice crowd and some good gardening questions.  I also talked a lot about Master Gardener training and how they can become a MG.  Many had no idea that we now offer online training January – March.  Contact your local county extension office to get an application.

Today we made it to the office and loaded up to head to the 4-H center for our County 76 board meeting as a precurser to the PNG Leadership Program that begins tomorrow.  As I pulled in and wrote down my mileage it was appropriate for being at the Arkansas 4-H center.mileageWhile most were in attendance, we did zoom in a few members. county 76 board.sept182county 76 board.sept181 We got a lot accomplished, and we are still working. While we were working on board matters, the PNG Committee was busy setting up for the overall program.  png set up.18 We have 200 folks from across the state coming in to learn about the MG program management.  We will be here at the Arkansas 4-H Center for the next two days.

A busy week

September 14, 2018
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Yesterday was the final day to register for the 30th birthday event and we had a rash of phone calls and emails.  We finalized our t-shirt order today and have put that in.

We are having to change how we handle online registration for the state MG conference for 2019.  We have been lucky that the LRCVB has handled our online registration since 2007, but that ended with the 2018 conference.  We met with a new group today who might be able to handle our needs, and brought the LRCVB to meet with us to make sure we covered all the bases on what we need.  I think it looks very promising but we will miss Penny and Jennifer.

I also had a couple of zoom meetings, then went to the Pulaski County MG greenhouse with Jim Robbins to look at improvements they can make.  It got hot out there.  

The rest of the afternoon I spent wrapping up everything I need for next weeks PNG leadership conference.  We have a board meeting on Monday, then the conference begins Tuesday and ends Wednesday after lunch.  Julie and I leave Thursday for Lubbock, TX for a plant trial and speaking engagement.  Time is flying these days!

I left work a bit late and picked up a friend for 2nd Friday night art.  The new exhibit opened last night at the Old State House on the first ladies of Arkansas’ dresses.   The exhibit will be up for awhile and it was well done.  They had a nice crowd and great refreshments.   Our friend Mr. Register was playing piano to entertain everyone.   The Old State House is the first MG project in Arkansas and it still looks great. 

We also went to the Historic Arkansas Museum (another MG project) .  The gardens looked great and there were huge gourds up in the trees, and the turks cap and beautyberry looked good.  HAM was packed with young people. and the Butler Center and library annex.  It was hot and humid outside, but very pleasant inside.  We had not attended 2nd Friday Night Art in a while so it was good to be back.

Sharp County and What’s in Bloom in your Garden?

September 12, 2018
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I left town early to head to a meeting in Hardy (Sharp County).  They had excellent attendance and asked a slew of questions. From the picture they all look quite serious, but it was a very fun meeting and excellent food as well.     I got to meet their new county agent Cody who I think is going to be fabulous.  A nice group of them are coming down to the birthday event in October.  They are another small but mighty group with some good ideas to increase their numbers.

Our state is really quite green right now with all the rains but  I also saw so many plants blooming as I drove north. The rains have given many plants a big shot in the arm and there are blooms all over.  I made it home in time to walk my yard to see what I have blooming. I have new blooms coming on coreopsis, the red ruellia Mexican petunia, a new bloom on limelight hydrangea and the orange cestrum has one large cluster open with many more coming on. This is a gorgeous plant but no fragrance on this one during the day, but it should have fragrance at night. No smell right now though. It should be winter hardy here in central Arkansas, but I am growing it in a pot so will move it to the back of my flower beds for the winter next month.

I continue to be impressed with the Jubilation gardenia which has several open blooms and many more buds coming and it has amazing fragrance.  Another fragrant plant is the Harlequin glory bower (Clerodendrum).  Most of the flowers have finished, but I have a few still blooming and even a few more just now setting buds.  Another interesting feature is the bright blue seeds inside the red calyx which are beginning to show now too. 

My summer annuals are really putting on a show and I think the last shot of fertilizer didn’t hurt. The dragonwing begonia has never been larger, and the porter weed is covered in flowers which the hummingbirds and butterflies like.  I containerized the orange buddleia that Kim Pittcock gave me (along with the porter weed).  The last one she gave me I planted in the ground and it got huge. This one is easily 4 feet tall but not taking over the garden and is getting more orange blossoms.  My purple buddleia is also covered in blooms.  Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are everywhere in the garden right now with the abelia, the toad lilies and all the other blooming plants.

In the edible world, my okra which was slow to get going this year is going strong, and I (along with everyone else) have loads of peppers. I am letting them fully mature since some are too hot for me–so I am letting them become ornamental as well as edible.  My sage and thyme have grown too well so if anyone needs some, let me know.  I was planning on pulling the eggplants this weekend to make room for the garlic and shallots I got in the mail this week, but now they are setting more fruit too, so I may delay a bit.  One other edible that I am on the fence about is the summer spinach called Malabar spinach which is native to tropical Asia and not a true spinach. It gets its common name because it tastes just like spinach when cooked and can be used interchangeably. It is a vine which grows like a weed and is quite attractive. I just am not a huge fan of the thick mucilaginous texture of the leaves when raw, which is how I prefer eating spinach.  They say the texture is actually especially useful as a thickener in soups and stews.  If you like it, plant it because it takes care of itself and will give you a bumper crop all summer.  I am also still getting cucumbers and starting to get lots of tomatillos –a salsa verde is in my future.  (My first attempt at sweet pickle relish this weekend was a huge hit and I will make that again–I actually used a water bath and canned some!)

For September, the garden is looking great. I spotted several places selling pumpkins and mums today on my drive, so that will start getting added into the mix soon as well.

Birthday Planning

September 11, 2018
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Our MG 30th Birthday event is a month away and we have two days left for folks to register, so if you plan to attend, get your registration in asap.  Today my committee went to Moss Mountain to look at the site again to confirm what was going where and looking at parking.  We strongly encourage carpooling, and I do know several counties are bringing buses or vans.  Individuals driving out is not a great idea as parking is limited.  It is a great site and we have a wonderful event planned, so I hope you are planning on attending.  We also have to place our t-shirt order this Friday so if you want a shirt, order now.  Colors are blue, white or orange with blue and white options in short or long-sleeved while orange is short-sleeved only. 

We got back to the office mid-afternoon and sent out reminders, worked on programs and planning.

Tomorrow morning I head to Sharp County to meet with their MG group.  It is a busy next two months.  Did you not love the weather again today?! We were happy to be walking outside.

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