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Doubletree & back to spring

February 11, 2017

This morning our planning team for the 2017 MG conference was slated to meet at the Doubletree to see the renovations of the hotel and Robinson Center. We scheduled it for the morning to get in and out. What we didn’t plan for were hundreds of school kids and buses arriving at the same time for a performance in Robinson Center.  Parking was a zoo so we were a tad delayed in our start time.  The renovations really look good from the open lobbydoubletree-feb-2 doubletree-feb-3 to expanded registration area and then the view from our dining rooms in Robinson are amazing!doubletree-feb-6 doubletree-feb-10 doubletree-feb-12

We looked at the various routes we will be directing people from one event to the other doubletree-feb-9 doubletree-feb-13

and looked at the locations for our speakers, plant holding, etc. doubletree-feb-14 doubletree-feb-17

The art and garden fair has a lot of room.doubletree-feb-16 doubletree-feb-15

Mid-afternoon I decided to get my oil changed for the travels today, but since it was such a pretty spring-like day I guess everyone took off early and all of the places were packed with over an hour wait everywhere. I hope to slip in and out this morning before I head to Jonesboro.  I also saw 4 wrecks in Little Rock.  It was crazy outside–looked like Christmas traffic. This spring-like weather has people loopy!

I hope you stepped outside last night to see the moon. It was amazing and I apologize the picture is not better, but a car parked right in front of me as I went to shoot this and I tried to zoom in to avoid car lights.  moon-feb10-17  Last night’s full moon is known as a “snow moon”.  The snow moon is an old nickname from days when native American tribes gave nicknames to each month’s full moon to help keep track of the years and the seasons.  Since in a normal season, February is usually the snowiest time of the year, it was called snow moon.  This year it could be called early spring moon!  We also had a penumbral lunar eclipse last night.  That means that the  outer shadow of Earth falls on the moon’s face. I am not sure I saw much of it, since it is not easy to see.  At best, at mid-eclipse, very observant people will notice a dark shading on the moon’s face.  Regardless, it was a beautiful moon, on a once again, mild evening. We slept with our windows open again–in FEBRUARY!

Last night we also attended the retirement party of our friend Lynn. lynn-c-retirement-1 lynn-c-retirement-2 I am getting to that age where more and more of my friends are retiring–and they seem so happy. I will join their ranks in 2 years–the end of 2018!  A fun time was had by all.

This morning I head to Jonesboro for MG training this afternoon, then I spend the night to speak tomorrow for their Horticulture Garden Club sponsored program open to the public.  This free event is at ASU College of Agriculture & Technology Building, Room 203 lecture hall (off University Loop, at the building with the double greenhouses) at 2 p.m. I will speak on native plants.

Something new and something to ponder

February 10, 2017

Change is a good thing.  We need to try new things to keep our programs fresh and evolving.  We have been having a MG State Conference for over 20 years and they are an institution in Arkansas–well attended and well planned.  We are currently taking registrations now, and they are coming in fast and furious.  MG Conference 2017Through next Friday (Feb 17) it is open registration for Active MG’s, Lifetime Members and County Agents.  This year we are taking 700 people.  It is going to be a fabulous conference, with exciting tours,phelps-garden-may1601010129 old-mill-july16-1seminars, art and garden fair and a lot of extras on Sunday afternoon, and a special event Monday night, heifer-planning-nov-2 heifer-planning-nov-5 plus two exceptional pre-tours–Pulaski Tech  culinary-school-mar31-1509 culinary-school-mar31-1514 and Moss Mountain. moss-mountain-dec14-3Master Gardeners can read all about it on the MG Only website–remember you must know the user name and password.   Many Master Gardeners have been attending these conferences every year since they have been a MG and it is old home week–coming back together with friends from around the state that you only get to see once a year. State conferences are three packed days of education, networking and fun!


For those who maybe can’t attend a state conference, or simply want more education we are trying something new this year.  District Garden Dig Ins district-dig-ins-logo1are being held in March in three locations across Arkansas.  We will have an outside speaker at each one, plus me doing a horticulture topic and a bit on the MG program.  We will have an opportunity to share a meal or a snack.  Each one is a little different, and we are testing the waters.  Space is limited, and time is short.  Registration went live yesterday and is due in Feb. 27 and our first event is March 6 in Forrest City.


This was sent to me via email, but I thought it was just too good not to share:

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’  She fooled them all …. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile.  Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.  She replied , “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress.  If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”  “As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night.

Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue! Always keep your words soft and sweet just in case you have to eat them.

We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.













What a difference a day makes

February 9, 2017

If you were outside yesterday you were pretty certain spring was here. The temperatures were a balmy 76 degrees and sunny skies.  I was outside all afternoon taping television spots for Garvan Gardens.  Plants are moving at warp speed.  The flowering quince were lovely and they had three colors in full bloom from white to pink to red.  flowering-quince-garvan-feb8-2flowering-quince-garvan-feb8-5 flowering-quince-garvan-feb8-10  This plant is so showy in the late winter/early spring garden. Last year we had blooms on them in late December and still had flowers in early March.  They are pretty early, but don’t look stunning in late summer.  For that reason they are best interspersed with other shrubs or on the perimeter of the garden. flowering-quince-garvan-feb8-3

The flowering cherry tree at the koi pond was in full bloom with the other varieties nearby not even showing color. flowering-cherry-feb8-1 flowering-cherry-feb8-2  Camellia japonica varieties were in full bloom all over the garden in various shades of pink, red and white. camellias-garvan-feb8-1 camellias-garvan-feb8-3  While many gardens have some crocus and daffodils beginning to bloom, Garvan already has some hyacinths blooming and tulips beginning to flower–and it was February 8!  crocus-feb8-17 daffodils-garvan-feb8-3 tulips-garvan-feb8-1 tulips-garvan-feb8-2

The hydrangeas are beginning to leaf out and would be quite susceptible to cold weather now. hydrangeas-emerging-feb8-2 While we are officially in winter and parts of our gardens look dormant garvan-feb8-1 garvan-feb8-2change is happening.  Ferns are putting  up their fiddleheads fern-emerging-feb8-17 some perennials are beginning to re-emerge and we even saw quite a few blooms on azaleas already.  Bees were buzzing amongst all the flowers and if you have been up as early as I have this week, the birds think it is spring too, chirping away.

Be aware that there is a lot of construction which will be ongoing for months on Highway 70 between I-30 and Hot Springs.  construction-70 They are making it 4 lanes I think throughout, so there are delays. I mentioned it to Sherre and she told me the fastest way to get to the gardens is to take the 3rd Malvern exit heading from LR–not the main one which I have taken, but the one after 270.  I used my GPS and went home that way, and it was faster. I have been going to Garvan for over 20 years and never knew about this route!  I missed all the traffic and made it to I-30 in a little over 10 minutes.  It is a winding road but no traffic.  I was home by 5:45 p.m.

I was grilling out last night for dinner and my what a drop in temperatures in less than an hour.  It was in the 70’s one minute and in the 50’s seemingly the next and the wind was whipping.  This morning it was 32 degrees when I got up and is only supposed to get to a high of 50 today, so winter is back.

The Dreaded Dentist and Work

February 8, 2017

I try not to spend much time in dentist’s offices–once every 10 years or so would be fine by me, but before the holidays I cracked a tooth. I went to check on it before I left the country and he assured me I was fine to go on the trip and I would have no problems from the tooth,  and he would start the crown once I got back, so yesterday morning I was at the dentists at the crack of dawn.  Technology has increased light years from the old ways. Instead of biting down on those paper x-ray things, they now scan your mouth tooth-xrayand poof the pictures are on the computer screen. Instead of taking those yucky molds of your tooth to make the crown, they now have a machine that scans your teethscanner and gives you an exact replica of your jaw with teeth in place! tooth-technologyThey then can email your picture (this is not mine) and the crown is ready in a week.  But regardless of the new technology, I still hate getting a shot in my mouth–they need to come up with a solution for that–and I had forgotten how much I hate the sound of the drill. dental-drill In spite of my dread, I was in and out in quick time and back at the office.   A friend of mine in Louisiana did not have as pleasant an experience. He was getting two crowns and they were midway through when the tornado sirens went off and the entire office had to evacuate to a shelter below the office. The tornado went right over the building, but luckily did not touch down where they were.  After a considerable wait, they went back to the office to finish up, and for some procedures they had to start with more shots!  There were numerous tornadoes in Louisiana yesterday with several that did some damage.  The weather is weird all over our country.  We had record highs yesterday in Little Rock, with a record high low as well.  Everyone is talking about how far ahead of schedule we are–2-4 weeks across the south.

There are azaleas in peak bloom in Louisiana, and this Ozark witchhazel at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks is already blooming. ozark-witchhazel

I am headed to Garvan Gardens this afternoon to tape television spots. We chose the afternoon a month ago so it would be warm enough to tape–I don’t think we needed to have worried.  I can’t wait to see how far along the gardens are with this warm weather.

Getting back to normal

February 7, 2017

I can’t say I am completely back to normal, but getting there. I do not know how people travel internationally on a regular basis crossing back and forth through major time zones. I am trying to get into a regular sleep schedule again but I was up at 3 a.m. on Sunday and my dogs got me up at 2 a.m. Monday and I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I had columns written and email done by 4 a.m.  Pretty productive, but I was a zombie by mid-afternoon.  I did work a more than full day since I made it to the office early and stayed late.  Catch-up on work and sleep takes time.

Registration is coming along at a brisk pace for the state MG conference.  Right now we are still in the active MG, Lifetime and County Agent only status for registration which extends through next Friday.  After that, sustainers, guests and new trainees can register.  It is going to be a fantastic conference and you don’t want to miss out.  Registration information is on the MG only site which does require a password.  MG Conference 2017

I am also working on finalizing Powerpoint for this weekends talks–MG training in Jonesboro on Saturday, but then I speak at ASU campus on Sunday afternoon to the public, sponsored by the Jonesboro Garden Club. If you are near Jonesboro, I will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday at the auditorium in the ag building.

Our travelers have gone through a variety of seasons in a matter of weeks. We left with pretty mild conditions and headed into summer, passing through winter in Korea.  We spent a couple of weeks back in summer, then headed back to winter, and now it feels like spring. I awoke to spring-like temps and lightning and thunder.  Today is scheduled to get to almost 80 degrees and it is early February!  Plants are popping out everywhere.  The flowering quince are in full bloom.flowering-quince-feb6-2 flowering-quince-feb6-4 I saw open blooms on tulip magnolias with many buds showing color. tulip-magnolia-feb6-17 along with daffodils daffodils-feb16-2and crocus in bloom.crocus-feb12-1

I was surprised to see a bridalwreath spirea in bloom already though. spirea-feb6-17 It is a poorly pruned example.  After it finishes flowering it needs to be rejuvenated with 1/3 of the canes thinned out at the base.  If this warm weather continues even more plants are going to be blooming.  Have you looked at your big leaf hydrangeas? I have seen leaves sprouting on many already.  If we have any severely cold winter weather down the road, we could be in trouble. Let’s hope our winter weather is behind us, but it is awfully early in the season.  Keep your fingers crossed!


Home sweet home!

February 4, 2017

It was a long journey home, but everyone from our group has made it home.  The last 9 Arkansans began the journey home at the airport in Siem Reap at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (2:30 a.m. Thursday LR time).  It was a small but crowded airport.  flying-home-2017-3 flying-home-2017-4 flying-home-2017-5  You have to walk outside to get to your planes and walk up the stairs.  flying-home-2017-6We flew Vietnam Air from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Hanoi, Vietnam for leg one.  Even though the flight was only a little over an hour to Hanoi, they fed us a meal!  We arrived in Hanoi and had to go through security again, and then go to the ticket counter to get our tickets converted to Korean Air tickets, which took a while.  Then we had a few hours to kill before our next flight to Seoul, South Korea. flying-home-2017-7 flying-home-2017-8  We boarded our second flight slightly before midnight to fly 3 hours to Seoul.  Once we landed we went through security again.  At this point, the travelers divided up with 4 of us flying back through Chicago and 5 back through Dallas.  Why we were not all on the same flight is a mystery.  The Chicago group had a 5 hour layover in Seoul while the Dallas group had a 12 hour lay over.  There were some quiet places where you could go sleep and even take showers, so we left them there and went to our gate. At our gate there was a small section with 10 lounge chairs. When we arrived they were all taken but within an hour some freed up and we were able to get a few hours sleep. flying-home-2017-9 flying-home-2017-11 

Our next flight left for Chicago.  We had a screaming baby for about 7 of the 12 1/2 hour flight.  If you had your headset on listening to a movie, you almost couldn’t hear him, but man did he have some lungs.  At the end of the flight the flight attendants apologized to us for the noise, but it wasn’t their fault.  I watched 6 movies coming home and 6 on the way over so I am caught up on some movies. I did not sleep much on the way home but it was an easy flight, since we had an empty seat between us.  We saw the sun come up from the plane, flying-home-2017-1and landed in Chicago about 8:45 a.m. flying-home-2017-2

It was 95 degrees when we left Siem Reap and it was 16 degrees when we landed in Chicago–quite a change. We collected our luggage and went through customs and our 4th security check!  We had a 5 hour layover before heading home to LR.   We landed in LR around 3:30 p.m. and walked in the house by 4  p.m.    The journey based on LR time started out at 2:30 a.m. Thursday and ended at 4 p.m. Friday!  It was a long day.   I got the suitcase unpacked, visited with the family and dogs for a bit, took a shower and was in bed by 7 p.m. and slept until 6 a.m. It felt wonderful to be in my own bed and able to drink water from the tap.   I drank the most bottled water I have ever had in my life the past two weeks.

It was a good trip with a great group of travelers. We did a lot of walking and saw some amazing sights.  It was the most unique tour we have ever taken.  We did not see amazing gardens with tours led by top horticulturists, but we did see a country through the eyes of some very passionate Cambodian and Vietnamese tour guides.  We learned about a different culture and did see some beautiful tropical plants and interesting fruits. We tried a lot of new foods and some we loved and others we probably won’t eat again.  Weather-wise we picked the perfect time to be there. We had maybe 5 minutes of rain one night when we were inside the boat, but other than that it was blue skies.   There were mosquitoes a few days but we all had our deet and were prepared.  Although traveling is good, it is nice to come home!

This morning I went to a funeral for my old secretary Mrs. McKinney.  mrs-mckinneyI got an email letting me know about it as I was heading home.  She was 87 years old and had been in hospice for a few months. She was a great secretary to me and continued on working for Beth after I left.  She loved the Master Gardeners and took great care of them until she retired.  It was a very nice service.

I have gotten all my laundry done, gotten groceries and caught up at home.  The dogs are a bit clingy and are so happy we are home. As long as I keep moving I am not tired, but if I sit down I get sleepy.  We are going out tonight for our supper club, but I think it will be another early night to bed.

Ta Prohm

February 1, 2017

ta-prohm-temple0130 ta-prohm-temple0134 ta-prohm-temple0141Our final temple was Ta Prohm which was the site of Tomb Raider and another movie.  Unlike the other temples which they have pulled from the clutches of the jungle, in this one the jungle appears to be winning with huge tree roots intertwined with the stones and buildings. ta-prohm-temple0115 ta-prohm-temple0119 ta-prohm-temple0121

We went in the afternoon and unlike the day before when there were hardly any crowds, this one was packed.ta-prohm-temple0113 ta-prohm-temple0137

For me, this was the most unique temple.  Originally Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of King Jayavarman VII.  A rare inscription at Ta Prohm provides statistics on the temple’s workers. Allowing for some exaggeration to honor the king, the inscription’s report of around 80,000 workers, including 2700 officials and 615 dancers.  At one time the temple was loaded with rare stones, gold and silver.  And while they are working to restore it, just trying to hold back the jungle is a huge task.  I have taken a lot of photos of the trees and will try to sort them out when I get home.ta-prohm-temple0160 ta-prohm-temple0162 ta-prohm-temple0169 ta-prohm-temple0172

After we had a chance to freshen up a group of us had dinner together for our last night in Cambodia.last-dinner-siem-reap10 last-dinner-siem-reap11

It has been a great trip and we have learned a lot about a culture I knew very little about. Today we had time to explore the grounds, siem-reap-hotel-09 siem-reap-hotel-14 siem-reap-hotel-32 siem-reap-hotel-34pack and will head to the airport this afternoon for our journey home.  The Arkansans are dividing up in Seoul with some going through Dallas and some Chicago.  I am scheduled to be home at 3 p.m. Friday.  Wish I could wiggle my nose and magically appear there in an instant.


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