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Rain and weeds

June 5, 2017

The weekly rains may be good for our gardens, but they are also good for our weeds.   In this picture some of the neighboring plants are also now weeds from wisteria to wild cherry and hickory trees, along with some poison ivy.  I have had a lot of calls/emails about how to control everything from nutsedge  (firmly entrenched in liriope)  to wild violets,poison ivy and greenbriar.   

Unfortunately when the weeds are growing intertwined with ornamentals, there isn’t anything you can spray that will kill the weeds without damaging the plants.  If you can shield the desirable plants from the herbicide or sponge on some round-up you might have a little control.  With woody weeds like wisteria, and small tree seedlings, they would be harder to kill than the tender perennials they are growing in.  Hand weeding, or in the case of the above monkey grass totally getting rid of it all and starting over might be an easier solution.  A good hoe is a good thing to have but many of these weeds are tenacious and bounce back quite easily.  Scouting and control as soon as you see an issue is the best bet.

If you ignore this is what you may end up with.   Not too attractive!

Chores and fruit

June 4, 2017

Another full weekend at home flew by in the blink of an eye. I have decided it is much easier taking things out of a kitchen than getting them all put back in.  I am 85% of the way done but I finally had to call it quits. I have cooked the past two nights and it is so much fun!  I also went out and bought a ton of things to organize drawers and try to keep us organized.  Let’s see how long that lasts!  I found these cool things that are actually hooks to hang jackets and such, but look like art (until they are covered up with coats!)     We are gradually hanging art back up too, but want to wait until all the other rooms are painted and then I can determine what goes where.  Clay and I worked both days until we are both pooped.  Kroger was having withdrawals not seeing me much the past two months, so I made up for that today and stocked the kitchen back up.

I did spend a bit of time in the garden, planting a few things I had purchased this week, fertilizing and harvesting before the rains yesterday hit.  My broccoli is putting on its second set of broccoli heads, smaller than the first, but still tasty.  I also am getting a cup or so of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries daily. I tend to graze as I am walking the garden.  The bird netting saved the day and now I am the one picking the fruit instead of the birds and squirrels.     I use the black netting, but a friend uses this sturdier stuff.  I did harvest my first fig this weekend and more are ripening, but the birds are getting to them too.  Once the berries are done I will move the bird netting or I may need to buy more.    MG Pat Freeman posted this one on Facebook   I have never seen a fig that large. I need to find out what variety that is!

We did get more rain yesterday and a bit this morning. It seems to come in a downpour then stop.  The humidity is pretty high too, but our gardens seem to be thriving.  The okra I planted on Monday is already up and growing.

This promises to be a busy week with a bit more traveling.  I speak at the state EHC meeting in Hot Springs on Wednesday and then we have the all day pollinator class on Thursday at Garvan Gardens.

Keep Arkansas Beautiful, office, girls night and kitchen is mine!

June 2, 2017

I met this morning with Keep Arkansas Beautiful director Robert Phelps and his staff to do some planning on a community garden grant for a tiller award.  Robert has done a great job leading this organization for many years.  He retires at the end of this month and he is leaving the program in good shape.  Once the details of the grant are worked out, I will share.

Then I spent the rest of the day at the office getting ready for next weeks programs.  We also did some program planning within the horticulture staff.  Someone obviously had a bit too much sugar at lunchtime!  but horticulture is an exciting field to be in. It is never dull.

I made it home in time to leave for a fun girl’s night out dinner.  We had an excellent meal with plenty of laughs and conversation.   

When I made it home my kitchen was completed–and mine to use!  

It is amazing the transformation that has been done in two months! Here is what it looked like when we started:    

and here is what it looks like today:    I am in heaven!  I had to start putting things up as soon as I got home and finally stopped and will pick up tomorrow where I stopped. Life is good!

Thank you and work

June 1, 2017

A State MG conference doesn’t just happen. It takes a year or more of planning with a multitude of volunteers, but it also takes money.  We have strived to make our conferences affordable as well as educational.  To that end, we work hard raising sponsorship money to help defray the registration costs.  This year was no exception. We had a very successful fundraising campaign from the Pulaski County sponsorship committee chaired by Cathy Mayton.  They got donations from businesses and individuals in our community who support the Arkansas Master Gardener program.  Today a thank you ad ran in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to publically thank all who were so generous, as well as our volunteers.    If you do know any of the listed sponsors or do business with them, be sure to say thank you for supporting our program!

Today was also the deadline to turn in evaluations for the state conference and I have been reading them this afternoon. They are full of glowing reviews and comments, along with suggestions for improvements.  It is always interesting to read them as one will say my favorite thing was . . . . and the next will say my least favorite thing was . . .(The exact same thing).   I have heard the silent auction should be longer and shorter.  Also folks did not know about steep climbing on some of the tours–it was in the pre-notes; what to do at Heifer–it was in a pre-conference newsletter; and someone suggested we send out information about the seminars and tours before they start registering on-line–that was done too.  The problem is we are all busy and get so much information that we tend to cut to the chase and do things without reading everything, and I don’t know how to get around that.  I also loved all the suggestions about topics for future conferences.  We will get everything compiled and share.  I think it might be good to post it where everyone can read it somewhere. It may take a while as there is a lot of data–thanks for sharing!

I did have the whole day at the office and it was another full day.  We have workshops coming up next week in Hot Springs–the state Extension Homemakers Conference is Tuesday and Wednesday (I am speaking on Wednesday) and the Pollinator Workshop is at Garvan on Thursday. I have been tweaking Powerpoints and printing handouts.

I have also been getting some questions on what this plant is: 

The plant in question is Clerodendrum bungei, commonly called Mexican hydrangea or Cashmere bouquet.  It is a shade-loving perennial that can be quite aggressive.  If you look at the middle picture, that started from one plant and is quickly spreading.  If you have it in your garden, learn to recognize it and keep it controlled.  A sister plant is Clerodendrum trichotomum or the Harlequin glorybower.  I love the blooms and seed pods but it too can spread far and wide in the garden. 

Use both plants with caution.

Garvan Gardens in May

May 31, 2017

This will be the last time we tape our TV spots in the afternoon for a while. We started taping in the afternoon instead of the morning to avoid the equipment sounds, and while it worked, it is getting too hot to tape in the afternoon. It warmed up considerably today and it got hot when we were in full sun. The Perry Wildflower Overlook is amazing, but standing in  the full sun was pretty toasty!  The coneflowers were in every color and just stunning.   

The stokesia (Stokes asters) were in full bloom along with monarda, agastache and daylilies.    Just like all the other gardens in central Arkansas right now, the hydrangeas are in peak bloom and many shades of pink, purple and blue. 

In several parts of the garden they left a few mums from the fall planting and they are now in full bloom.   Once they finish they will give them a haircut and they should bloom again in the fall.  Mums are short day plants and will initiate blooms when day length is short like in the spring and the fall.

There is also a new app at the gardens that you can download on your phone.  Beaconsage is the app and once you have it every time you see one of these in the garden  you will get a recorded message about what you are seeing. It also gives you shots of that part of the garden in every season on your smart phone.    Pretty high-tech!  They hope to have plant ID in the next round.    The gardens looked great, but I would recommend going in the morning to beat the heat.  If you have a golf cart ride it can add a breeze. There was a definite difference between sun and shade.  We got four TV spots taped and I was back on the road by 4, so it wasn’t too bad, but we will do 9 a.m. next time.

I will be back next week on Thursday, June 8 for a pollinator workshop.  There are a few spaces still available but pre-registration is required.  I will speak on plants for pollinators and how to attract other pollinators to the garden,  Jon Zawislak our bee expert will talk on bees and MG Butterfly guru Pat Gipson will talk on butterflies.  To  register online go to:

or call the gardens  Main Office Hours 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. weekdays
Main Office Phone: 800-366-4664 or 501-262-9300


Office, Clark and blackberries

May 30, 2017

My June calendar is much calmer than my May one.  I have more days in the office which is a nice way to regroup.  Today we had a lot of loose ends to wrap up, columns to write and Powerpoints to prepare for next week. A nice relief from the past three frenzied days of restocking my kitchen.

Those of you who attended the state MG conference, don’t forget to do your online evaluation–the deadline is June 1! We really do read them and use your input to make changes or improvements in future conferences.  I am so blessed that we have so many dedicated volunteers.  We just finished a fabulous state conference (in my opinion, but I will share the evals), and the River Valley Group (Sebastian and Crawford counties) are hard at work planning for 2018.  Today I got an email from Mimi in Jonesboro asking if I was serious about 2019 being in Jonesboro.  I will be retired by the 2019 conference, but I realized a month ago, I will have to plan it since it would not be possible for someone to do so in one month (I plan to retire January 1, 2019 or December 31, 2018–not sure about taxes and such).  When I said I was serious since we have not been to that part of the state in a while, she replied, oh good, I want to have another one here–let me talk to the board this week!  And she knows how much work it takes, since they did one years ago.  I also had a MG from Washington county approach me at the LR conference to say they wanted to do another one soon.  In Arkansas we don’t have to twist arms to host events, we have volunteers willingly ready to take on the task and do a great job.  Are we not the most fortunate Master Gardener state?! \

I hope you all read the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette yesterday.  Our own Pulaski County Master Gardener Clark Trim was the featured High Profile. 

It was an excellent article about a very special person.  Clark is a huge asset to our Master Gardener program but also to the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show and our community. Great job Clark!  Not only is he always willing and ready to help when asked, but he is a great gardener as well. His and Henrik’s garden were on the garden tour for our state conference and he had rave reviews!    not only are the ornamental gardens wonderful but they have one of the prettiest vegetable and fruit gardens you will ever see. 

Speaking of fruit, I have been getting raspberries and blueberries along with the beginning of blackberries, but for the first time the birds and/or squirrels and chipmunks have found my garden.  I have been trying to beat them to the fruit, so today we covered them with bird netting to see if that will help.    

Everyone is talking about hydrangeas and how pretty they are this year.  The big leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla is the only plant I know that will change colors based on the pH. I have three plants in close proximity to each other in the same soil with quite a difference in color.     In the middle is a Hydrangea paniculata or peegee hydrangea which has buds but no blooms yet.   Most peegees are white with a few changing to pink.  Regardless, this has been a good hydrangea year–at least for those of us who avoided the heavy late snows or frosts.

My kitchen guys are working hard to finish trim, tiling and grouting.  I also changed paint colors for the family room today.  When it is all said and done, I will not only have a new kitchen but new lights in the living, family, dining, kitchen and hallway, plus new paint in the entrance way, hallway, family, dining and kitchen.  A fresh coat of paint is sort of like a fresh layer of mulch in the garden. It just looks fresh and new.





Happy Memorial Day

May 29, 2017

“No accomplishment of real value has ever been achieved by a human being working alone.” – John Maxwell  

I read this quote this morning as I was checking email, and I think it is so true, especially as we honor our soldiers on this memorial day.

I have mentioned John O’Leary several times in my posts. I receive his weekly motivational email.   Although I think they are all quite good, the one today is excellent and quite appropriate for this Memorial Day.    Here is a link:  Let’s all pack someones parachute!

I have been getting some emails and even a text or two from friends who have recent damage on their Japanese maples.     This is usually squirrel damage. From time to time squirrels, and occasionally raccoons will strip the bark off of Japanese maples. Usually the damage is more superficial, but it still looks pretty bad and is more damaging on young trees.  It also depends on how much they strip off of one limb.  For some reason this bark stripping tends to occur more in late winter to early spring, although I have gotten three questions in the past two weeks. One theory—and that is all it is, is that female squirrels do this prior to giving birth to relieve the pain—I guess it takes their mind off of it! Another theory is that they use the bark in their nests or they are searching for food. Whatever the reason, once they start, they often come back and do more damage—much like a woodpecker has its favorite tree. Using a tree wrap in the area, hanging scare devices or spraying with a repellent can all give limited help.  Why they prefer Japanese maples over other trees is a mystery to me.

Unfortunately I did not spend much time gardening today. I cleaned, and cleaned and cleaned some more. My living room is not quite dust free, but close.  It also is beginning to look like my living room again. I got more things put up in the kitchen and we started hanging up some art.  We did as much as we were going to do by 4 p.m. when I got ready for our first dinner guests post kitchen remodel (even though we aren’t 100% through).  It was great fun having space to put things and cook in.  My gardenia bush out back is absolutely loaded with blooms and it fragrances the entire deck. I cut some to bring inside and they are glorious.   It was nice being able to entertain again, and I always enjoy visiting with good friends as much as the preparing the food. I am LOVING this kitchen and can’t wait to get everything back in and all my art work up.  Even cleaning up was fun and the kitchen definitely got christened, since Clay smoked a huge brisket and they have grease everywhere. 

It was nice having 4 days in a row off.  Clay and I worked like trojans every day and it shows inside.   I think they must know Clay personally at Home Depot since he made so many trips recently. My garden would have like a little more attention but I did do a little outside and I do have freshly mulched beds.

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