19 April 2015

Tulsa Garden Club Spring Tour

The details have arrived so now I can tell you everything you need to know about the Tulsa Garden Club's 2015 Spring Tour.

Saturday April 25 from 10 am to 5 pm.
Tickets are $10
Start at any garden

4 private residence gardens including

1818 East 43rd ST
Featuring herbs, evergreens

2618 E 40th ST
Featuring dry creek beds, sculptural plants, succulents

3030 S Yorktown
Featuring Azaleas, dogwoods, holly, hostas, roses

2932 S Woodward BL
Featuring Laurels, dogwood, acer, hydrangeas, roses, rock garden, viburnum yews

The proceeds from the tour benefit Tulsa Garden Center projects.

16 April 2015

Wild Black Cherry tree is Prunus serotina

Prunus serotina, wild black cherry tree
Wild black cherry trees have been added to our fence line in two places, thanks to wildlife. No more, please.

Considered junk trees by many, we allow these two because they provide early pollen for many insects and late little berries for birds. Of course, the birds like those cherries so much that they replant and replant with abandon.

This plant is one of the pioneer species, mostly growing where black walnut, hackberry and black locust trees proliferate.

The tree was introduced as an ornamental and since the seed germination rates are very high, it soon became naturalized until today it is considered undesirable or invasive, which ever word you prefer.

Wild Black Cherry is host to caterpillars who eat its leaves.

If the leaves are crushed, they smell like cherries.

Eastern OK is at the far-west portion of its habitat, probably because of our normal rainfall being high. West of the OK/AR state line there is nothing on the graph at the link.

MOBOT reminds us that Wild Black Cherry is hardy in zones 3 to 9,  They are easy to grow but due to a deep taproot, they are difficult to transplant. They also say the fruit is inedible fresh off the tree but we can attest to the jelly made from them being very high in flavor!

And, "Native Americans prepared decoctions of the inner bark for cough medicines and tea-like cold remedies. Hard, reddish-brown wood takes a fine polish and is commercially valued for use in a large number of products such as furniture, veneers, cabinets, interior paneling, gun stocks, instrument/tool handles and musical instruments. Specific epithet comes from the Latin word for “late” in reference to the late flowering and fruiting of this cherry in comparison to other cherries."

Yikes! Illinois Wildflowers' site says they grow to 80 feet tall. So if you don't like it decide before it becomes too tall to remove without great expense.

Hmmm. I've only made jam but if your interests and culinary talents are broader than mine, try the wine recipe here. Brandeis University provides a juice and jam recipe for you here.

13 April 2015

Wild Plum - Prunus angustifolia, Purnus Americana, Wild Plum - Spring flowering shrubs and trees

Native plum tree bark
As I walk around our yard in the morning with camera in hand, I see many lovely little and mid-size plants that I can no longer exactly identify. Did the birds plant that or did we?

I thought these were little native plum trees, Prunus Americana, that we planted along the south fence-line to soften the view of our neighbor's gigantic metal building with a pile of tires so high we can see it from the hammocks in the summer.

However, now I'm pretty sure they are our native Sand Plums, Prunus angustifolia instead. 

Here's a handy link from the Washington Native Plant Society with photos of dozens of spring flowering trees and shrubs to help you identify what the birds planted in your beds and fence-line!

My dream is that in a couple of years the native plums will at least block the tire pile though they will always remain too short to block the building and yet small enough to not grow into the power lines along the property line.

One of our other purposes in planting them was to feed and shelter wildlife. We purchased the minimum of 50-tiny tree/shrubs in a bundle from this site.and took advantage of their delivery truck stopping in Muskogee last year (free delivery). We planted 10 or 15 and gave away the rest to my yoga students to plant in their yards.

Prunus angustifolia flowers
I love the little five-petaled white flowers they display in the spring and am even so bold as to hope to get enough little plums to make a batch of wild plum jam.

They are shrubby and can form thickets though the ones we have on the other side of the yard by the swale have never really moved or multiplied. I suspect it's because they are in too much shade.

Oklahoma State University has a Fact Sheet at this link that will explain all the many names, varieties, planting and harvesting tips.

09 April 2015

Poke weed - Love It or Kill It? Phytolacca americana

April 16, 9:30 am Russell Studebaker speaking
“Poke Weed: Native Spring Greens or Garden Pest?” Muskogee Garden Club
119 Spaulding DR Information Susan Asquith 918.869.7401
Among the plants we love there are many with the word “weed” in their name including: Jimson Weed, Butterfly Weed, Bishop’s Weed, Joe Pye Weed, Milkweed, Jewel Weed, Rosin Weed and Poke Weed. Some we plant intentionally and others show up as gifts from birds and squirrels. Still others show up after we apply purchased compost. 

Jimson Weed (Datura or Loco Weed) is frequently planted by gardeners because of its large, ruffled purple and white flowers. Easily grown from seed, garden centers sell it in one-gallon containers. Datura is called Loco Weed because the poison in the stems can cause hallucinations.

Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podagraria or Goutweed) is sold in garden centers as a rapidly growing shade perennial that chokes out more undesirable weeds. Besides, in India and Russia the flowers and leaves are eaten and it is widely used to make a treatment for psoriasis. The medicinal ingredient is psoralens.

Rosin Weed (Silphium integrifolium or Rosinweed) is a native wildflower that resembles sunflowers. It is valued for its pollen and nectar which provide food for long-tongued bees primarily, including honeybees, bumblebees, Little Carpenter bees, Cuckoo bees, Miner bees, and large Leaf-Cutting bees.

Jewel Weed (Impatiens capensis or Touch-Me-Not) is a natural remedy for poison ivy rash. It is often a component of poison ivy soaps. The name comes from the fact that the flowers hang like jewels from the plant. Pale Jewelweed has yellow flowers and Spotted Touch-Me-Nots have orange flowers with dark red dots. 

Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum) has become such a popular native butterfly plant that the market is full of hybrids that take up less garden room and have a more cultured look than the variety that grows in moist ditches along roadsides. It attracts many butterflies, skippers, bees and other pollen-eaters, is drought tolerant, and with adequate moisture, will grow in any soil.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias, Pleurisy Root, or Milkweed) is now grown by thousands of gardeners and public gardens in an attempt to help save Monarch butterflies from extinction. The adult butterflies like the flower nectar but the real reason to grow it is that the next generations of Monarchs cannot live without it: Monarch caterpillars can eat only milkweed from the moment the eggs hatch until the caterpillars/larvae form a chrysalis. All varieties serve the purpose.

Poke Weed (Phytolacca americana or American Pokeweed) is a large plant that many people eat in the early spring. Although eating it raw is never recommended, both the leaves and roots are used medicinally. In the early spring the young shoots and leaves can be harvested and cooked in several sets of boiling water to remove the toxins. Those who enjoy it say it tastes like asparagus (http://hort.li/1ESY).

The medicinal applications of Pokeweed include: Rheumatoid arthritis, tonsillitis, mumps, glandular fever and other complaints involving swollen glands, chronic catarrh, bronchitis and diseases related to a compromised immune system.

Horticulturist and garden writer Russell Studebaker grows Poke Weed in his Tulsa garden and is a fan of it as food for the table. Over the years, through his talks and garden columns he has convinced many gardeners to grow and harvest it.

In his talk at Muskogee Garden Club next week Studebaker will show slides and talk about Pokeweed's place in American history, its importance as a cash crop in OK and AR and its commercial canning in AR. He will provide recipes in one of his several handouts.

“Pokeweed is an important source of food for wildlife,” Studebaker said. “Hummingbirds eat the flower nectar, birds eat the fruit and the Giant Leopard Moth raises its young on the plants.”

Studebaker wrote for the Tulsa world for 20-years and now writes for Tulsa People magazine and Oklahoma Gardener.

05 April 2015

Virginia Bluebells are Mertensia virginica

Virginia Bluebells are some of the happiest spring flowers for shade. The flowers are pink and then blue or is it blue and then pink. Either way, no one cares because they are a spring thrill.

The leaves are a soft round shape and I've yet to see a spot of disease or a bug bite in all the years they have been out in the shade bed.

What's amusing about them is that they move around the bed, travelling from one side of that paver path in the photo to the other. I asked them why but they gave no response.

Cold hardy in zones 3 to 8 or 9 means that gardeners in most parts of the globe can be successful with them. Plus, they are a native so they behave. They max out at about 1.5 feet tall and die to the ground with summer's heat.

They can be inter-planted with ferns and hostas since they are gone when those plants are showing their stuff.

The clumps can be divided early in the spring or root cuttings can be made when the plants are dormant.

Ephemeral plants have short cycles. A spring ephemeral is one that comes up quickly in the spring and dies back to the ground before you know it. Other native spring ephemerals for the shade garden include Blood Root and False Rue Anemone.

04 April 2015

Tulsa Garden Club Annual Garden Tour April 25

Tulsa Garden Club's  65th ANNUAL GARDEN TOUR

Saturday, April 25, 2015  10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Come enjoy 4 lovely spring gardens featuring a wide selection of annuals,perennials, water features and succulents, creatively planned and displayed, and adaptable for home gardens of any size and budget, located at:

2932 Woodward Blvd., 1818 E. 43rd Street,
3030 S. Yorktown and 2618 E. 40th Street

Tickets  are $10 each and available at the Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 S. Peoria from
April 10 to 24, and at participating gardens on April 25.

Tickets for the special “Patrons Party” on Friday evening, April 24 are available starting at $65 per person/$130 per couple, and include a private tour for patrons on Saturday morning.

Proceeds from the tour benefit the many horticultural, educational, civic and scholarship projects of Tulsa Garden Club for the benefit of the community.

For additional information, please call: 918­248­8248

31 March 2015

How We Do It - Seedlings - growing and hardening off before planting

We cut pieces of mini-blinds and
mark seed type and date planted.
Here is  a pictorial essay about how we grow from seed. Most of the time seeds are planted in the clear plastic shells that contain berries. They let light in plus have drainage and air holes

Some containers are put outside in plant trays inside the fenced area of the little vegetable garden to reduce squirrel damage. Others are grown inside the garden shed which has lights and very low heat.

Seeds put outside are ones that need cold stratification (alternating freeze and thaw) in order to soak off or break through the outer seed coat.

The columbine seedlings were too thick to prick out individually for transplanting into separate containers so we planted tiny clumps of them into 1-inch cells where they will mature enough for us to make selections. The weakest will be tossed and the strongest will be transplanted.

Perennial seeds such as the Penstemon Carillo Rose and Carillo Red were planted one seed per cell of a 72-cell tray so they have been left to grow under lights.
As each of the seedlings gains strong stems and roots, it is transplanted into an individual container with its own tag.

These annual verbena seedlings sprouted in clam shells and were transplanted last week into 1-inch cells to grow roots.

After transplanting, seedlings are kept out of direct light while they adjust to their new, separate homes. When they perk up they are given direct access to the large fan that we run in the shed.

Then, depending on their size, light preference and stem strength, they will either go under lights or outside to be hardened off.

We rarely, if ever plant a seedling, rooted cutting or plant division that has not spent time outside becoming strong. Some start out in the sun if it is cool, but most start out with just a couple of hours of sun. We check them daily for moisture or sun problems.

The photo on the right is a snap of the inside of the shed with a thousand seedlings and plants in varying stages of growth. This is where we keep mature pots that will go outside after April 15th, our last average freeze date.

This is what it looks like at the outside/back of the shed with the sliding door open. There are several hundred seedlings, cuttings and plant root divisions there in various sized containers.

Before the recent hail and tornado scare they all went inside for protection. By the rain barrel in the one gallon containers are brown turkey fig trees grown from cuttings we took last year, swamp hibiscus grown from seed, pinks grown from root division, etc.

Hope this is informative for you dear readers. We never sell seedlings or plants. They are all planted on our 2.5 acres, donated, shared, or given away.

30 March 2015

Monarch Butterflies and their Look-Alikes

For those of us who are confused by butterfly identification, this is a great link with a quiz to reinforce learning.

The National Wildlife Federation published these helpful photos and descriptions. Click here to see the entire entry.

And, if you have time, click through to the other educational links they provide within the text.

When out in the garden we see all of these but by the time we look up from our task the butterflies have sensed our presence and moved on to the next set of pollen providing flowers!

The butterflies that spent the winter under leaf cover are showing themselves on these warm March days but the migrating varieties have yet to show themselves.

28 March 2015

Solanum dulcamara is Bittersweet Nightshade vine

Bittersweet Nightshade vine has purple flowers with yellow centers, just as other nightshade plants
Solanum dulcamara in our shade garden
have. Without planting it myself, a vine has sent up a single leaf in the shade garden. No doubt a gift from a bird, squirrel or other creature out there. 

In Germany as in the US the stems and leaves are used to make a topical treatment for eczema so it could be useful to keep it. 

The website Herbs 2000, says
"The homeopathic remedy dulcamara is prepared using the fresh green leaves and stems of the bittersweet plant, which is also known as the bitter nightshade, and used to treat a host of ailments, especially joint problems,skin conditions and complaints that have an influence on the mucus membranes."

On the other hand it has a reputation for creating woody vines that smother out nearby plants - most of which I value and pamper.

Its native ranges include Europe, Africa and Asia, so it is well established around the world. It is also on invasive lists for some states in the US. In WA, for example, it is considered a "weed of concern". 

Solanum dulcamara prefers rich, moist soil but will survive in half shade almost anywhere the birds leave the seeds.

Bittersweet flower
 And, of course since it is a nightshade plant (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant) it is poisonous though birds are not affected by eating the berries.

For the moment it gets a reprieve since I like the idea of providing cover for wildlife. But, if it gets to stay long-term it will be in a location farther toward the back of the property where wildlife is more likely to hang out.

27 March 2015

Saturday is Daffodil Day in Muskogee

Go beyond their “candlestick telephone” shape, and you might see that not all daffodils look alike. 
“Some are four inches tall with tiny blooms. Some are 20 inches tall,” said Martha Stoodley of the Muskogee Garden Club. “The blooms come in white, yellow, orange, even pink.”
Visitors can see such variety when at the annual Daffodil Day and Tea, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Thomas-Foreman Historic Home, 1419 W. Okmulgee Ave.
More than 3,000 daffodils surround the home, built in 1898 for Indian Territory judge John R. Thomas. 
“We have at least 15 varieties,” Stoodley said. “Two thousand bulbs were planted by the Garden Club three years ago. Last year, we added another 1,000, and in the winter we planted 600.”
Daffodil Day began several years ago, when the Garden Club discovered Oklahoma was the only state in the region without a daffodil festival, Stoodley said.
For $5, visitors to Saturday’s celebration can view the daffodils, while enjoying tea with sandwiches and cookies.
For $10, visitors can enjoy events at the home, as well as a trolley ride to and from Three Rivers Museum. The Muskogee Arts Council is marking Daffodil Day with a judged art show at the museum.
“We have daffodil paintings, sculpture. Someone has panted a garden bench,” said Liz Wells, past president of the Muskogee Art Guild.
Saturday’s celebration will go beyond daffodils and art works.
Muskogee County Master Gardeners will sponsor a plant sale at the Thomas-Foreman Home.
“There will be plants from their gardens, such as sedum and other succulents,” Stoodley said. “They will have day lilies, basil, thyme, vegetable starters — things you can take and put in your own garden.”
Master Gardener David Redding said he has grown Shasta daisies, Mexican fern, even naked ladies.
“Those are bulbs in which the foliage comes up before they bloom,” Redding said, adding that the ladies show their pink petals in August, after other flowers have finished blooming.