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County 76 Retreat and plants

November 12, 2017
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Today was the beginning day of our 2 day board retreat for County 76.  We started at 12:30 and just ended.  A full day with loads of information being shared and plans being made.  I think everyone is tired, since many had a long drive in as well.  One even drove in from a family wedding from Ft. Worth.  We have a dedicated group of volunteers!    To keep our kindness theme going since PNG leadership, there were kindness sayings around the room, and even a message with candy on our pillows!  President Linda also gave us all a little extra “Thyme” to help us get all our work done.

Before heading to the 4-H center, I did spend a little time checking out my garden this morning.  I don’t want to brag, but I will–for the first time ever I have a fuchsia plant that not only survived the entire summer but has had at least one or two blooms all summer long.  I now have a dozen or more blooms and I am so happy.    I absolutely adore these beautifully gaudy blooms but they usually won’t survive an Arkansas summer.  I know they don’t compare to those at Butchard Garden or other northern locales, but I am happy to have what I have.  I also have a snapdragon that is starting its second season on my deck with flowers.  I also have blooms reappearing on the Sonic Bloom Weigela.  This is a spring bloomer and it blooms again usually in late summer to early fall. This is the 3rd set of flowers for this year.   Another confused plant on the deck is my hosta.  It has its 3rd blooming as well. 

The roller coaster weather has a lot of things confused.  Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I found a baby lizard in my sink. I thought it was dead, but when we went to examine it, it slithered off into the drain.  Not sure where it went from there, but I used the other sink so I didn’t drown it. 

Tomorrow we have another packed agenda and will hopefully have a lot to share with the rest of the state. We got dates set today for next summer’s A to P.  Exciting times ahead!

A busy Saturday

November 11, 2017
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Today was a full day. I spent the early morning hours cleaning up from our dinner party.  It took 4 loads of the dishwasher, 2 last night and 2 today, plus some hand washing to get the house back in order and everything put up.   I also had to work today for a bit at the Holiday House downtown.  I was there to answer gardening questions and sign books, but our supposed booth was in an odd place to the left of where you walked in the door, and no one noticed us. I saw a dozen or more MG’s and friends who even glanced our direction but no one noticed us.  They had been sitting here for 3 days with the same results.  People walked in and looked to the right at all the booths and just walked on.  We could have engaged and called to folks, but I think they were there to shop and not talk gardening.  Our spot wasn’t even on the official map.  When I got there this morning the folks putting it on sent me to the DG booth where they were selling subscriptions.   We did get to people watch, but not a very good use of time.  After that, I ran some errands, came home and finished cleaning up and did laundry before heading out to a wine tasting, a memorial celebration of life party for the late Tom Moerman, and then an open house at Gallery 26 which features a lot of great Arkansas art.   It was a fun and friend-filled day.

While I have been out and about the past few days, I have seen some unique things.  At a local Kroger they had a free fruit display for kids.  We are always encouraging people to eat 5 a day, and how great to entice kids to eat more fruit.  I wish that had been available when my kids were young. I used to hide the bananas in the shopping cart from my son, because he wanted to eat them immediately.

Once again, the Thanksgiving poinsettias are on the market.   Of course I had to buy one. In fact, I bought another tonight to take to the memorial event.  The unique color blends in nicely with my decorating and they will last well into the Christmas season.    It is sitting in a bright, sunny window and the colorful bracts will continue to give me color for months.

I moved my lemon tree inside several weeks ago, and now it is blooming indoors and I harvested my first lemon tonight.  2 more to go! 

Tomorrow I head to the 4-H Center for our annual County 76 board retreat.  This will be our jump-start to the year ahead in MG programming. I can’t wait!

Some free days

November 10, 2017
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I took a  couple of days off to help celebrate my husband’s birthday, and to prepare for our monthly supper club which was at our home  tonight.  I did get a lot of the prep work done for our dinner party yesterday, but last night was a lot of fun at Dave and Buster’s for our celebratory dinner for Clay’s birthday.  We ran in to the Bemis family celebrating a birthday too.  They had 3 generations of family there, and I got to see Jeremy’s new baby too! 

I did spend a lot of time the past two days cooking and preparing for a Mexican feast for our monthly supper club which was at our house.  We started off with empanadas, mini enchilada cups, fresh guacamole and salsa, then a corn and pepper soup, followed by skirt steak with chimichurri, chicken and mole sauce, pinto beans, jicama slaw, cilantro  lime rice, ending with tres leches cake.   I had great plans to take pictures but remembered at the end of our meal.  It was a great evening with fun and friends.

 

Planning, meeting and Zoom week 4

November 8, 2017
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It has been a busy week.  We drove to Fort Smith on Monday for our monthly planning session for the 2018 state conference. It was a gloomy, foggy, misty and cold day and not a pleasant drive up, but the fall foliage on the way home Tuesday was really nice, particularly the sumac–it looked like it was on fire!

After I returned, I dropped off things at the office and then headed to a meeting in Lonoke. Their new MG designed and planted landscape looks really nice.

Then today we had the 4th zoom session.  I continue to be impressed with this method of delivering our program.   Today we covered landscape design, groundcovers and vines, invasive plants and edible wild plants, plus annuals and perennials.  One more week and we will graduate 63 new volunteers!    Each new trainee should also have a mentor to help acclimate them into the program. I am expecting great things out of these new volunteers.

Homesteading at St. Joseph’s and too hot!

November 4, 2017
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It was a cool, gloomy and moist morning as I headed to St. Joseph’s community garden in NLR.  It was supposed to heat up and be sunny in a short while but it took a lot longer than anticipated to do so.  Unfortunately, the sun did surface and the clouds disappeared and it got up to 80 degrees. It was 81 inside my house and unbearable when I got home mid-afternoon, so we had to break down and turn on the air conditioning again–heat and air in the same week back to back is sad!

This was the first homesteading conference in Pulaski County and I believe it was a roaring success.  They had great participation at seminars throughout the event and lots of folks showed so much interest.    There were classes on raised bed gardening, herbs, composting, beekeeping,  chickens, cheese making, high tunnels, and edible landscaping.  They had booths showcasing all types of things, and the folks were on hand to show what they are doing at St. Joseph’s.  It is much more than a community garden.     There are demonstrations on raised beds, in all shapes and sizes,  There are keyhole garden demos 

composting,  beekeeping , chickens and livestock  and of course, the farm stand where you can buy fresh produce and lots of canned goods and jellies.    It was a great day with a wealth of information shared and so much enthusiasm for growing!  For the first year, it was a rousing success. I can’t wait to see what next year will look like.  Not only is the homesteading conference a great idea, but the facility at St. Joseph’s is pretty amazing.  If you haven’t been, you need to go.

 

Weather and confused plants

November 3, 2017
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I think we are all confused as to which season we are in.  One day it feels like winter, the next spring, then summer.  I am not sure fall has made it into the mix.  It was so hot and humid this morning and it didn’t get better until about 3:30 when rains came in and it cooled off a bit. It was back up to 81 degrees but felt warmer with the high humidity.  And if you think we are confused, what about our plants?!  This morning as I was heading into the office I noticed something white on the Loebner magnolia at the front entrance.  This is  a hybrid between a Japanese magnolia and the star magnolia. It had about 20 blooms on it.  It seems to think spring has sprung!    I would no be surprised to see more errant blooms on spring bloomers if this weather continues.  Spring blooming shrubs and trees set their flower buds in late summer to early fall. The flower buds set early on many species and then we had such hot, dry weather, that they started to shut down. Then we finally got rain, some cooler temps and now it is hot again.  We can’t stop them from blooming, so just enjoy.

The Master Gardeners have planted pansies at the entrance and they look great. 

Then there are the shore junipers near our employee entrance. They have spread prolifically and were encroaching on the sidewalk, so they were pruned a bit too hard this past February.    They are trying to recover, but needle-type evergreens are not as forgiving as broadleaf plants. Here they were in May:    and now November:    When pruning needle type plants (cedars, junipers, etc.) try to leave green tips, don’t prune back to old wood. In time they should recover, but it is taking way too long, and it is not the most attractive look while it is recovering.

We did get some nice showers this afternoon, and it has been raining off and on all evening. The temperature has also cooled down to 64 but it is predicted to be 80 or more tomorrow too!   I am ready for cooler temps!

Tomorrow is also the homesteading conference at St. Joseph’s in NLR. Come join us.

Summer’s back, Garvan and Fall Color

November 2, 2017
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It was hot and humid today, a far cry from last weekend.  The temperature was over 80 in parts of the state and coupled with the humidity it was pretty warm outside.  I spent a good portion of the day at Garvan Gardens. First I participated in an Advisory Board meeting with an excellent lunch to hear updates on the gardens.  Then I snuck out a bit early to tape the final TV spots of the year.  The winter annuals are being planted fast and furious and there were some good plantings of pansies, snapdragons, dianthus, dusty miller,  flowering kale and Swiss Chard.     They are pulling mums and some of the pumpkins, but there are still quite a few displays throughout the gardens.  Some of the hay bales are beginning to sprout too. 

Although they got cool this past weekend, they did not have any damage on coleus or impatiens. Summer annuals still looked pretty good where they hadn’t pulled them up to make way for fall plantings.  The Encore azaleas are blooming nicely and the sasanqua camellias are hitting peak blooms.   They are also in high gear for holiday lights, which opens officially Nov. 18 with almost 5 million lights.  Some of the mystic creatures are making an appearance throughout the gardens as well. 

It was a pretty day for a drive, and I think many of us are pleasantly surprised by the amount of fall color. Our exceptionally hot and dry September and early October had us worried we would not have a good fall display this year, but from maples to dogwoods and hickories, the trees are really putting on a show for us.  

I made it home and it was almost too warm inside the house, so I spent a bit of time in the garden.  Some of my coleus just had tip burn and once I pruned the tops off, they look pretty good.    I did pull up all the eggplants, but the peppers and okra still look ok.  The okra have their first infestation of aphids   When I went to clean up the summer squash, the centers look like they are trying to rebound, so I decided to see what will happen and left them be.   As I pulled up spent plants, I was pleased to see a plethora of earthworms in the soil.    Good news for my plants both current and future!  I got the rest of the Halloween only displays out of the front yard and put up what I have for Thanksgiving.  I went back inside to cook dinner, but even now it is still warm inside.  Weird weather for sure.

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