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Marion County and Home

June 16, 2018

I spent the night in Mountain Home to be closer to Yellville for their MG garden event today. It was an easy drive and I got there is plenty of time. This small but mighty group had it organized to the nth degree.  The room was set up with seed packets at each table along with a portfolio of items.  They had a hallway full of items to bid on with chances.  I particularly liked this unique concrete yard art –made by a MG where she poured concrete into a knee high pantyhose and shaped this.  I think I might need to get one of these.  Some people are just too clever. You could purchase tickets for the myriad of items and at the end of the day they will anounce who wins them.    As always, they had loads of food.  Tina Marie Wilcox was setting up her table on edible flowers.     I was so busy talking with everyone before it started, and then I spoke, so I never took any more photos. I hope someone will send me some of theirs.  It was a packed house, and they had their local newspaper on hand to cover it.  They presented me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a lovely retirement card.   It is starting–less than 6 months to go!  Time is flying quickly.  Luckily I had a small ice chest in the car and I could prop the bouquet in that and it made it home intact.

Once again, it was an easy drive.  There was too much traffic around the Buffalo for me to get pictures, but it was a happening place.  There were a ton of canoes and kayaks with folks floating the Buffalo today.  I also saw more wildflowers and slowed to get a few pictures (albeit not great).   A sea of milkweed, Queen Anne’s lace and coreopsis.

By the time I made it home it was mid afternoon and way too hot to do much in the garden.  I walked the yard, picked some tomatoes and squash, but that was my extent of yard work. Tomorrow I will try to do a little watering and fertilization and spend some time in the yard. I also need to take cuttings for the propagation workshop.

Tonight I had my first salad caprese with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden. Yum!

Another Hot Day

June 15, 2018

I spent the morning picking up supplies for Monday’s propagation workshop. I also am working on trying to finalize the zoom MG training schedule. I finally loaded my car and headed north mid-afternoon. It was an easy drive with low traffic. The sides of the road were covered in the native butterfly weed (a milkweed).

But there were also many non-natives including Queen Annes lace and the ditch lily Hemerocallis fulva.

There were also tons of mimosa trees (which are pretty but short lived and thus not desirable.). ¡I also saw many elderberries in bloom, which are native. I stopped in at the local WalMart to get some supplies and checked out the produce. They had tamarind seed pods in Mountain Home! I have never seen it or “eaten it. It is a flavoring used in Worcestershire sauce. It is the seed pod of a tree native to Asia. The pulp supposedly has a sweet/sour taste. They are used in Asian cuisine like we use lemons. Idid not buy any as I didnt think they would hold up in a hot car tomorrow but will look for them at home. Tomorrow I speak in Yellville at the Presbyterian Church in the morning on a summer of blooms at the Marion County MG event.

Pope County and Vegetables

June 14, 2018

I spent the first half of the day at my office working on the zoom MG training schedule, the budgets for 2018, getting emails out and writing before I headed north to Pope County to speak to their MG group.  They had a wonderful turnout and they treated us all to a fabulous lunch with a wealth of finger foods.     As we were setting up we had a computer glitch that I have never seen.  The screen was portraying my first slide, but frozen on that picture and not sharing the screen.   Luckily with a little unplugging and plugging back in, things began to work properly and my talk went off without a hitch.  I spoke to the group on Pollinator gardens and afterwards met with their board to discuss some activities they would like to do and how their money from the plant sale can be spent.  I encourage counties to use some of the money they raise towards fellowship–garden tours, summer picnics, etc.  Getting to know each other as people, not just seeing each other for an hour or two at a meeting is one of the best ways to strengthen a county program.  They gave me some lovely gifts, but one that is unique and clever is a candy dish made from a flower-pot and of course, in my favorite color! 

It turned out to be a very hot day. I drove back and picked up my CSA box.  I signed up for the whole enchilada–I get a box of vegetables, a bouquet of flowers and goat cheese every week, and meat once a month.  I adore goat cheese and have really enjoyed most of the cheese I have received but I can’t say that for today.  Today’s choice was chocolate goat cheese, and in my opinion, not a good idea.    I will try almost anything once, but for this one, once was enough.  I did get some good veggies, but no tomatoes. Luckily I am harvesting some of mine now.  My vegetable garden is doing great.    I do enjoy my bouquet of flowers.  This week I got sunflowers, lisianthus and vitex.  Very nice. 

Tomorrow I will round up all my supplies for Monday’s propagation workshop at Garvan (that filled up quickly with a waiting list) before heading north in the afternoon to drive to Marion County so I will be there for the first talk on Saturday morning.  Come join us.

Speaking, weather and more

June 13, 2018

Summer is typically a slower season for speaking engagements, but I have three this week.  Today I spoke to the  Affordable Housing Association of Arkansas (AHAA).  With more than 80 member organizations representing over twelve thousand affordable housing units around the state, Affordable Housing Association of Arkansas is dedicated to the enhancement of  multi-family housing through promotion of professionalism of apartment management. Through this association, Arkansas rental borrowers, USDA Rural Development, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA), and other government agencies join in the common effort to improve the lifestyle of our citizenry by providing safe and affordable housing.  They held a two-day meeting in NLR.  I talked about landscaping on a budget, and the impact the landscape can have on rentals.

Tomorrow I speak to the Pope County Master Gardeners for their monthly meeting.  The topic is pollinator gardens.  From what I understand, they have opened the meeting to the public.  The meeting officially begins at 1:00 p.m. at Russellville First Assembly of God, 124 E G Street.

Then on Saturday I am speaking at the Marion County MG Event:   I am speaking on Summer of Blooms– plants that add color all summer long.

When I made it back to the office after speaking, I heard some pretty loud noises coming from the woods abutting the back parking lot.  I saw a few of our crew standing over there watching.  Being the nosy person I am, I went to investigate.  They were using a bobcat borrowed from one of the experiment stations with a grinder applicator up front.  It was cutting paths through the woods and grinding anything in its path.  I have heard they are working on a walking trail to keep folks out of walking the parking lots and risking injury.  

This afternoon, once again the skies turned dark, the temperatures dropped over 20 degrees and then the skies opened up. It poured down rain.  We also had about 15 minutes of hail at the state office.  At home,  all I know is we had almost 1 1/2 inches of rain–and that is after the sprinkler service ran this morning.   Wouldn’t it be nice if we could schedule these daily showers all summer long?!

Weather, gardens and mystery

June 12, 2018

Today was a mixed bag of office and outside gardens. I was at the office early working on projects and left to do a landscape consult that someone got at the silent auction at the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show.   As I left the office it was hot, humid and sunny.  When I made it to the I-430 Bridge it was raining, but it was in a fairly isolated spot.  When I got to the garden in NLR, no rain, and it was sunny, hot and humid.  We walked the garden and looked at plant problems, and areas where she wanted some help. It was a MG garden and it was lovely with many unique gardens and loads of pretty plants.     As I was driving back to the office, it once again was pouring down as I hit the I-430 bridge, but this time the rain continued for a few miles.    By the time I made it to the office the sun was shining, but clouds were coming in.   We never had a drop of rain at the office, but I did get about 1/4 inch of rain at my house.  This time of year, rain is extremely spotty. A rain gauge is a must for gardeners.

I did more work at the office before heading out to look at a problem garden.  This one is truly a mystery to me. It has to be chemical in nature, but there is no pattern, nor rhyme or reason.  There will be a tree and shrubs extremely damaged next to plants that look great.  Truly a conundrum.     I think I have more questions than answers.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I signed up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) vegetable box.  I am getting 6-10 pounds of vegetables weekly.  When I am on the road, no one is using them.  I really don’t like wasting food, so I am hard at work trying new recipes and ideas to use up as much of them as I can.  Tonight I was a bit ambitious for a weeknight, but I made cabbage rolls (something I had not done before) with the head of cabbage and onions.  I also made a chopped kale and cabbage salad.  Both were quite tasty, but I had a mess in the kitchen before it was all said and done.  

A busy Monday

June 11, 2018

It was a full day from beginning to end.  I got columns written and sent, and worked on upcoming programs.  We printed off the early evaluation results from the 2018 MG Conference to use  for our 2019 MG planning session. We do read them and we do use the ideas.  You still have a week to go to do the evaluation, so if you attended the state conference, please go online and give us your thoughts.   We don’t get the 100% participation that we used to get with paper evaluations, but we get a lot more information, which is quite useful.  We had a great time at our planning session today for 2019.  We have so many ideas and came up with even more plans.    County 76 is taking the lead and we want this to be a fun process for all involved.  I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised with all the ideas.   Save the date now.

Registration also went live Friday for the Annual to Perennial event, but unfortunately we had a slight error in the date for those who could attend.  It said June 2018 to July 2018 , when it should have said June 2017 to July 2018.  I sent out a correction today, so make sure all new trainees know.  This event is for those who trained from last June through this July, and their mentors.  We have four events across the state to make it easy for good attendance.

We are also trying to finalize plans to start registration for the 30th year birthday.   Today we picked the final colors for the t-shirts, and we hope to go live with registration early next week.   Our two colors are:   Don’t forget, the date is Saturday, October 13.

I was also quite humbled recently by receiving an award from the Garden Club of America which was nominated by the Little Rock Garden Club.  I was not able to attend the LR Garden Club meeting to receive it as I was out of town, so good friend Cathy Crass came and presented it to me at the office.    I was as touched by the accompanying letter of recommendation as the award and sorry I could not make their meeting and thank them all.

I got home a bit late and walked the garden and was surprised at how dry things were. I watered a lot yesterday.  Tonight we got to meet the latest addition to our family–my son has a new puppy.  Madame Maxine is only 9 weeks old and almost as big as our grown dogs.  She is precious, but she is going to be huge!      I think Petals is more my speed. 




Time to enjoy the garden

June 10, 2018

It has been a busy week full of activities.  Leading up to entertaining yesterday, I edged all the beds and put down 15 more bags of mulch on Friday.  I also watered, and  then I was in party mode.  Today was a day to just kick back a bit.  Even though I watered everything well on Friday it was pretty dry already today, especially the beds in full sun.  The heat and humidity are here in force, so I spent the day deep watering beds, deadheading and looking at the garden.  I need to pull some more weeds, but that can wait for another day. The perennials are kicking in with blooms and I love some of the color combinations.    Of course I adore the orange echinacea   and this red ruellia is so much better behaved than its purple cousin.  Most gardeners plant hosta for the large showy foliage in the shade, but an added bonus on some varieties are showy white (and sometimes fragrant) blooms. They are beginning to bloom now.  My impatiens are filling in nicely, and as long as they get moisture, they will be blooming all summer long.    In the shrub world, the abelia is alive with bees going to the blooms, and I have several species of hibiscus rose of Sharon that are loaded with color too.   I am still enjoying the heck out of the big leaf hydrangeas and my panicle hydrangeas are beginning to kick in as well. 

And it isn’t just flowers that I am enjoying.  My vegetable garden looks really good. I harvested carrots and peppers today and am letting the squash go one more day before picking my first squash.  It looks great in my raised salad bed garden.  I also have loads of tomatoes on the vines and the okra is slowing beginning to grow.  Some of the hard rains pushed some of the seeds so I will have to do a little thinning.  

This afternoon was our book club.  We discussed Warlight by Michael Ondaatje.  I forgot to take pictures!  We had some very good discussions.  It got mixed reviews.  Some liked it better than others.  While not all of us loved the book, it led to some interesting discussions which to me is the whole point of book club. If you only read things you liked there would be no need to be in a book club discussing the books.  It was a nice day at a slower pace for me.  I cooked dinner and we caught up on some tv shows too.

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