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County 76, events and drive to Sharp County

April 7, 2017
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Yesterday was a full day. We spent the bulk of the day with our County 76 board planning upcoming events.  This is one of the hardest working and most dedicated boards around.  You leave these meetings with such excitement about the programs to come.

I did have the rest of the afternoon to try to check things off my list and I got 90% done, with all columns written through next week,  Italy trip details finalized, Mississippi trip details trying to finalize, and some other loose ends. Julie and I went after work to an office get-together, but I didn’t get the picture sent to me to share.  We left there and went to the open house at Plantopia. The place was hopping with people, plants and events.   Since I am leaving town on Sunday I decided I had enough plants that aren’t planted and probably won’t be until I get back, so I bought a pot instead.  I did get to visit with a lot of Master Gardeners and Chris’ mom and dad Ralph was in our second year of MG training and is a great gardener–I am sure that is where Chris got his gardening genes.

By the time I got home and watered and saw what work had been done on the house, I was too tired to blog.

This morning I did water plants before I loaded up and headed north to Sharp county. Along the way I was scouting opportunities for tours for the 2018 National Azalea Society meeting.  I stopped in at Ann Wood’s house and her garden is amazing.  The peonies are absolutely stunning  and I can tell she had a great display on her tree peonies which I missed. She has such a diverse collection of plants. The deutzia and leucothoe were beautiful.

She also has a great collection of Japanese maples in addition to many deciduous azaleas that were just beginning to bloom along with a few other evergreen ones.  Ann not only has beautiful shade gardens but an outstanding rose garden, vegetable garden and a diverse mix of trees.  It was hard to leave such an oasis and on such a gorgeous day, but I had to move on. We stopped in at the Earth Station nursery in Batesville and they always have unusual plants.

It was back on the road to Hardy where I checked in to the motel with time to spare before meeting the Master Gardeners for dinner tonight. We were surrounded by prom goers, so it was fun to watch. A great visit with these dedicated Sharp county volunteers. Tomorrow morning is their annual seminar beginning at 9 a.m.  Come join us in Cherokee Village.  It is free.

Office, weather, gardens

April 5, 2017
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It was a fast sprint at the office trying to get everything done that needs to.  Spring is always a wild ride in the horticulture department and this year is no exception.  If you were outside at all today, it felt a whole lot like last Thursday when we were touring in Fort Smith. It was cold here in Little Rock and the wind was whipping. I did do a landscape consult this afternoon and it COLD.  Here are a couple of other reasons why you shouldn’t plant Bradford pear trees:   Surface roots and breaking branches.

We also saw some good examples of crape murder  but also some excellent examples of large azaleas in full bloom. 

Any spring blooming plants need to be pruned, do so as soon as they finish blooming.  Wisteria is an invasive plant that can take over, but if you can prune it to a trellis or designated spot and prune it hard each year it can be pretty.   Wisteria can be purple or white and both types can be as invasive as can be. 

The kitchen keeps getting bigger and bigger with less thing in it! 

Planting your bloomers

April 4, 2017
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Today was Cross Counties annual Planting your Bloomers gardening workshop.  They started at 8:30 with registration and had programming through 3:30.  I thought they had a full house last year, but they had 100 people and a waiting list of folks trying to get in.  They need a bigger meeting space, but they hate to give up the built-in food of this facility.   There was a good mix of Master Gardeners and general gardeners from 14 counties!  They asked questions and were copiously taking notes.  This small but mighty group does a fabulous job of putting on a seminar.  They had all the bases covered.  Mimi was there representing County 76 and selling her wares but there was a whole lot of learning going on.  The first speaker had to cancel just last week after all the programs were printed, but it didn’t faze them at all. They found a replacement who did an outstanding job on vegetables, and the show went on!  I spoke on annuals and perennials and trends in gardening. The final speaker was on fairy gardens and the Cross County folks had miniature gardens as decorations all over the place.  Great job Cross County!

It was an easy drive up and back, and a beautiful day, but it did heat up–up to 86 in LR.  I think I am getting a handle on my kitchen chaos.  I have stations for everything I need to do and it is slowly coming together. I bought a dishwasher tonight and have paid for the flooring and now I just have to wait and see what happens. I will be traveling quite a bit, so I won’t get to see daily results, so my husband will have to take pictures!

Meetings and Garvan

April 3, 2017
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This morning we had an executive meeting for the state MG conference that took up most of the morning. There are only two weeks left to register for the state conference, and space is available since we have space for more people than in the past.  This is going to be a fantastic conference, so come join us!

I had to leave to get to Garvan Gardens to tape our monthly TV spots. We have decided to shoot in the afternoon to avoid equipment sounds and we can do so until it gets too hot to wait until the afternoon. Today it turned out to be a good idea, to allow time for the morning mist to leave. It was still pleasant and the sun was shining as we taped.  The tulips are done and so are many of the azaleas, but there are still plenty of plants in bloom and many more coming on.  One of the hot spots today was the Perry Wildflower Overlook.   The perennials planted last year are really coming along nicely.  The Gaillardia were blooming nicely and will continue to do so for months.   Other early blooms included scabiosa (pincushion flower) , ice plant,    and a double coreopsis.   But the most stunning plant today was the fringe tree. The showstopper was in the parking lot, but there were several others around the garden in full bloom as well.   Gorgeous!

The gardens are pretty in every season, and it was a delightful day to walk the gardens, and it was a pretty day for a drive.

Tomorrow is Planting Your Bloomers in Wynne.  Hope to see you there.

Gardening and Containers

April 2, 2017
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Most of my work on the kitchen has been done, so today I did a bit more clean-up but left the heavy duty to others with more walls coming down and dust everywhere! Clay is in 7th Heaven and doesn’t seem to notice the fine layer of dust covering everything in sight. I left drop cloths as a hint to put them up before moving forward.  I reinforced the idea verbally!   I did get to spend some time in the garden too. I had the morning free before heading to my church for a program on container gardening this afternoon. I got some of the plants planted that I have been purchasing the past couple of weeks and am slowly renovating the containers.  I pulled weeds and did a little pruning before it started clouding up. I decided to load my car before it started raining with all the plants I was taking to the workshop, and that turned out to be a wise decision.  I plan to put more tropical plants in the center of some of these pots, but I am waiting until mid-month to get them.  I did break down and buy a couple of gorgeous Lantana but they won’t do much growing until it warms up a bit.  The callibrachoa, petunias, osteospermum and fuchsia absolutely adore this weather, so they should do well.

My cool season vegetables are doing well, and I have NOT planted any tomatoes, peppers or eggplants yet. I think mid-April is the earliest they should be planted in Arkansas regardless of the temps. My lettuce and kale are doing great, and the red mustard is getting huge–too bad I don’t like cooked mustard greens.  Maybe I need to look for some innovative uses?! The potatoes are coming along nicely and so are the onions, broccoli, spinach and peas.  You can tell it rained after I seeded the kale and spinach–the rows are no longer straight or spread out enough. 

It was raining as I drove to the event this afternoon and it really came down after I unloaded. It was lightning and thundering and they worried it would keep folks home, but we had a great turnout.    I spoke on container gardening and answered a lot of questions on general gardening as well. It really was raining as we left and by the time I made it home we had over an inch and a half of rain at my house and more is predicted until midnight. We needed the rain.  It really cooled off too!

Tomorrow I head to Garvan Gardens in the afternoon to tape TV spots.  It is supposed to be a pretty day so can’t wait to see what is in bloom. Haven’t we had a pretty spring thus far?

Chaos

April 1, 2017
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Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man is a quote by Henry Adams but here is one from Janet Carson:
Chaos is the nature of a kitchen remodel; order is the dream of Janet Carson!  When I arrived home last night, the house was in turmoil. I have been trying to keep one step ahead of the kitchen remodel, putting everything I need in places I can find them. My cleaning ladies thought they would help me out by finishing the task, but there was no rhyme to their reason!  I was a bit stressed, but I got over it, once I put things where I wanted them. It took awhile and while it still looks like chaos, I know where everything is!   It is somewhat amazing how much stuff one can fit in one kitchen, but having to clean out the dining room too to make way for walls being knocked down, I had a major undertaking.  But it is all done and Clay has had a fun day of knocking out walls. 

I am beginning to envision what I am going to have eventually.  It should be done in two months, so I can live with that.

Besides emptying out cabinets and china hutches, and organizing space for refrigerators, crystal and more, I did find a bit of time to do some gardening outside.  I pulled some weeds, planted some new summer color and harvested some winter vegetables.  The vegetable gardens are looking pretty good. 

Once again, my left over pumpkin is sprouting like crazy. I hope I get a few pumpkins like I did last year! 

Clay and I were happy to have an excuse to stop working late this afternoon to clean up to go to a party tonight at the Russel’s.  We had a fabulous time (not working) but also visiting with friends and having an outstanding meal. 

Tomorrow rain and storms are predicted later in the day. I could use the moisture, but not the storms. I am speaking at my church in the afternoon on container gardening.

What a difference a day makes!

March 31, 2017
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The sun was shining, and although the temperatures were pretty similar to yesterday as we started off, the wind was not as intense but the sunlight made it feel warmer. Our committee met early and toured several more gardens in Ft. Smith and then went to two in Van Buren. Another diverse mix of large and small, and some unique gardens.

We saw fairy gardens , rose gardens,  and historic gardens.  We toured the second oldest building in Arkansas, the Drennen Scott home. The gardens are a Master Gardener project and the home has much historic interest.

We had a very productive morning. After noon, we headed back towards LR.  We stopped in at some nurseries along the way home to check out what they had and to get plants for a workshop on Sunday. First stop was a new nursery in Lamar, BP Nursery & Landscape owned by a father/son duo.  It is just getting started but so much promise and such enthusiasm from the young owner.   Then we stopped at a nursery that has been in business for 40 years in Russellville, Taylor’s.  I was pleased to see a lovely Ark. Diamond Display as you walked in.  Last but not least was Freyaldehoven’s in Conway. They were doing a brisk business.

Our car was loaded up when we headed home, albeit a bit later than expected.  A very full two days but quite productive!

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