18 November 2014

Cherokee Ethnobotany - Pat Gwin speaking in Muskogee

Pat Gwin speaking“Cherokee Ethnobiology: Cherokee Native Agricultural Practices and Plants”
November 20, 9:30 am to 11 Muskogee Garden Club
Kiwanis Senior Center 119 Spaulding AV Muskogee
Information: Susan Asquith 918.682.3688

Cherokee plants and their role in the life of native Cherokee sustainable agricultural practices is a topic that Pat Gwin has spoken on for a decade at various conferences, native plant walks and events. Nove 20 he will share that wisdom at Muskogee Garden Club’s monthly meeting.

“Ethnobotany is strictly about the native plants and Ethnobiology includes animals,” said Gwin. “My talk will be 95% about plants. Part One of the talk is gardening with heirlooms and Part Two is about ethnoforestry which is usually the more popular part of the talk.”

Gwin is the director of the Cherokee Nation Seed Bank and Native Plant Center at Cherokee Nation Natural Resources in Tahlequah where he helps coordinate the heirloom seed exchange program. He also helps plant and oversee the Don Guy Memorial Garden on the grounds of the Cherokee Nation complex where they grow heirloom plants in a display garden.

“One thing that people don’t think about is the fact that in the past gardening was done to ensure survival in the winter months and today most gardeners grow summertime produce,” Gwin said.

Cherokee Ethnobotany refers to the many roles plants have played in traditional Cherokee society as food, shelter, weapons and medicine.  One purpose of the Natural Resources Department is to increase and preserve environmental knowledge of Cherokee wild herbs, vegetables, trees and fruit.

Gwin pointed out that most people don’t realize the chemical-free nature of livingwith native plants, utilizing them for food and growing them for medicine.

“Western medicine has its roots in medicinal plants,” said Gwin.”Traditional plants played a role in that.”

A link at the Cherokee Nation website (http://hort.li/1C4n) lists plants and animals with links to articles about them. For example, Gray Squirrels are described as an historically important food source, with skins used for hats and pouches.

The Cherokee Natural Resources Board donated five copies of the English version and five copies of the Cherokee language version of their recent book to be given away as doorprizes at the meeting.

Here are some examples from the Cherokee Nation’s 2014 book, “Wild Plants of the Cherokee Nation” –

Sweet Everlasting, Gosdudv or Pseudognaphalium obstifolium is a member of the Aster family. The Cherokee name means ash-like and is named that because the flowers and stems look ashy. Grows 1-2 feet tall in disturbed, open areas. A tea is made of the aerial plant parts and drunk to prevent or cure colds and respiratory ailments.

Rattlesnake Master, Selugwoy, Eryngium yuccifolium, Corn Leaves Weed, Button Snakeroot is a member of the Apiaceae or Parsley plant family. It is known by Cherokees as a warrior’s plant as well as a survival kit. The button of the root is carried as protection, consumed for energy, snakebite remedy and cancer inhibitor.

It is a perennial plant that matures at 3 feet tall with white flowers. Rattlesnake Master thrives in prairies, wooded areas and along roadsides but has become rare due to urban clearing and spraying.

The Cherokee Nation’s heirloom native seedbank (http://hort.li/1C4k) will open for requests in Feb. 201, and those who attend today will find out how to obtain seeds for their gardens. The number of seed packets distributed each year has ranged from one to five thousand, depending on the weather and growing conditions.

The seeds were collected over a 20-year period from traditional Cherokee areas, grown locally, saved and grown again to ensure a good supply of seeds that are direct descendants of traditional crops. They began giving away seeds in 2007.

“This was a bumper crop year for the seedbank,” said Gwin. “We’ll have plenty to share.”

You can watch the October, 2013, Oklahoma Gardening segment on the Cherokee Nation’s Don Guy Memorial Garden at http://hort.li/1BT3

14 November 2014

Cold Frames made of re-purposed home windows

When we had to have our house's windows replaced with new ones last year, I asked that all the old windows be left with us so they could be re-purposed into mini cold frames.

We put them up the day before these 20-degree temperatures arrived and I wanted to give them a few days/nights trial run to see how well they did. Success!

Jon drilled little holes in the frames and ran wire through the holes to make a secure tie that even these recent, awful winds have not messed with.

The little windows at the ends blew down one night but the plants didn't suffer any damage.

We've watered once just by slipping the hose in with a water flow diffuser/bubbler attached so it would flow down into the soil.

The other greens in the garden? Mixed results. The Kale has freezer burn, the Mache and Arugula are doing fine.

Dinosour kale without protection 

Arugula - unfazed by freezing temperatures and blooming!

Mache - unprotected and undisturbed by the freeze

10 November 2014

Begonia rhizomes make more plants You Can Grow That!

Soak entire pot contents
Begonias are mostly tender perennials in zone 7 with only a few exceptions. They are one example of plants that we keep from year to year, dividing in the fall, growing in the shed over the winter and putting back outside in the spring.

There are different types of begonias according to Gary Turner, including cane, shrub, thick stem semperflorens, rhizomatous, tuberous, trailing/scandent. Cane-types can be rooted in water.

Begonia rhyzome growing over pot
Most have shallow roots and prefer shallow containers where they can trail out. We use bagged soil-less potting soil, remixed with extra perlite for ours.

A few of ours are so crowded that their rhizomes are crawling over the sides of their containers. We keep ours outside in flower beds, under trees, all summer in pots and our summers are 100 and above with pretty high humidity.

Gently separate rhyzome clumps
At the link above, Turner says: "The planting medium mix should be slightly acid, containing loose, well-drained ingredients such as Perlite, Vermiculite and leaf mold (oak leaf, Orchid Bark). Begonias in general prefer to be root or pot bound. The type of pot does not matter, but for tall plants it is wise to use a heavy pot that will help prevent the plant from tipping over.

When repotting, place the plant as low in the new pot as possible to bury more stem buds and encourage more canes and roots to grow.
Separated begonia rhyzomes

Start the dividing process by letting the container dry out so you can slip it all out in one piece. Then, soak the contents to soften it all to make it easy to remove loose soil and get your fingers between the rhizomes to gently pull them apart.

Each rhyzome will then go into its own container. Or, you can cut the rhyzomes into pieces and plant them as illustrated on the right which we are going to try.

Our potting shed is filling up with wonderful projects like this that keep our fingers in the soil all winter long!

Turner, "Optimum temperatures for Cane Type begonias
range from 55 degrees at night to about 80 degrees in the day. Some survive short bouts of freezing weather, and others can withstand 100 degree summers. Higher humidity through misting helps them grow better in higher temperatures."

Carol Notaras and other members of the San Francisco Begonia Society use a basic blend of: • 1/3 Potting Soil,  1/3 Perlite• 1/3 Orchid Bark (small or micro-chip size)
Joan Coulat of the Sacramento Begonia Society recommends this special soil mixture recipe includes the following: • 2 bags of 2 cubic feet Professional Potting Soil• 2 bags of 2 cubic feet Master Nursery Paydirt with Soil NʼRich• 3 - 1/2 gallons of Perlite (course) • 2 - 1 gallons of Vermiculite (course) ● 1 - 1/2 cup of Blood Meal• 1 - 1/2 cup SuperPhosphate ● 1 - cup of Bone Meal• 1 C Agricultural Lime ● 1 - 1/2 cup of Ironite

07 November 2014

November things to do in the garden

Collect seeds from mature annual flower heads
November is not always a gardening month but this year it is. However, when night temperatures drop below 50-degrees F, tropical perennials, succulents and houseplants should be prepared for bringing indoors.

Start by checking the containers and soil for insects. Soak the planted pots in a tub of lukewarm water for 15 minutes to force the insects to leave. If there are burrowed insects in the pot such as snails or earthworms, repot the plant to remove them before bringing them inside.

If the plant became large and leggy over the summer, prune back the roots and the top before repotting in fresh soil.

Gradually help the plants get used to the low light in a home by putting them in shade for more and more hours a day before bringing them in. The best windowsill light is about half the light plants get outdoors.

Many plants you enjoyed this summer can have a second life if you take cuttings that you can replant next spring. We have had success with all succulents, begonias, petunias, Purple Heart, geranium, coleus, wire vine, impatiens, sweet potato vine, rosemary, pineapple sage, lavender, mint, etc.
Take 5-inch cuttings that end where a leaf grows. Remove almost all of the leaves below the top few. Put sterile potting soil mixed with perlite in a clean container with drain holes. Dampen the soil and let it drain.

Put holes into the soil with a pencil and carefully place one cutting in each hole. Water the soil and let it drain again. Check the cuttings every few days to make sure they are damp not wet or dry. Check for roots after 2 or 3 weeks. When the roots are well established put each rooted cutting into its own container of soil and put into bright light to grow out.

Herb plants such as parsley, thyme, oregano and chives can be dug up, potted and kept in a sunny spot for fresh herbs to use in the kitchen over the winter.

Live Christmas trees are fun to buy and have in the house before planting outside. This is the time to prepare the planting spot by deciding where you’ll want the tree to grow to its full, mature height, and digging the hole before cold weather sets in.

Dig and store summer flowering bulbs such as gladiolas, dahlias, caladiums, Elephant Ears and tuberous begonias. The mesh bags that onions come in are ideal for drying cleaned bulbs and tubers. 

When they are dry enough to store in a frost-free location, put them in sand, peat moss or sawdust where they will remain dry.

Check them every few weeks, looking for disease or shriveling. Cut off any diseased spots and plunge shriveling tubers into water to plump them. Then, put them back into storage after the surface dries.

Many of these plants can also be brought indoors and treated as houseplants over the winter. Elephant Ears and Cordylines in large containers make a dramatic impact during the otherwise dull months for gardeners.

There are plenty of sunny days remaining and they are ideal for pulling weeds so they do not overwinter and return as giants next spring. Insect eggs are hiding in the flower and vegetable beds and it is a good idea to clear all the dead leaves and stems, eliminating insects’ winter homes.

Lilies and daylilies can be divided, moved and replanted now. Fall is also a good time to start a compost pile where sticks, leaves and dead plant material is piled and left to make soil amendment over the winter.

There is still time to plant spring blooming bulbs, pansies and perennials on sale at garden centers.

04 November 2014

Wildflower Seeds - new source this year Pine Ridge Gardens

Barbara's Buttons, Marshallia caespitosa 
Mary Ann King, owner of Pine Ridge Gardens in northwest Arkansas has always been a reliable source for native plants grown at her nursery.

Yesterday King announced that they have collected seeds from their plants and the surrounding area and are making them available to native plant lovers. Click over to see the entire listing at

Other useful links -
Arkansas Native Plant Society http://anps.org/
Ozark Chapter Arkansas Native Plant Society http://anps.org/ozark-chapter/
Native Plants for Birds in NW Arkansas http://www.nwarkaudubon.org/native-plants-for-birds-in-northwest-arkansas.html

Seeds we have to Spare

Our seed mostly comes from the nursery or the farm so most of our seed is only available in small quantities.  Sometimes seed may hybridize naturally so  it may not turn out exactly like its parent plant.  And since these are seeds, please keep in mind that there can be color variations.  
TO ORDER:  Print page, check or circle items desired, and mail to Pine Ridge Gardens,   P O Box 200, London, AR 72847 with check, money order or credit card information.  
Name, mailing address, Credit card number (if using), expiration date and Security code.
Shipping charges as follows:  1 to 50  packets   $5.00                    51 to 100 packets $10.00    No charge for seed sent with plant, book or t-shirt order.
You may also email page to me or call with your order.  479-293-4359 or office@pineridgegardens.com

Latin NameCommon NamePacket SizePrice# of
Allium cernuumNadding onion50 seeds3.00

Allium stellatumGlade onion50 seeds3.00

Andropogon gerardiiBig Blue Stem50 seeds3.00

Andropogon glomeratusBush Bluestem50 seeds3.00

Andropogon ternariusSplit beard bluestem50 seeds3.00

Asclepias incarnataRose milkweed25 seeds3.00

Asclepias syriacaCommon milkweed25 seeds3.00
Asclepias tuberosaOrange milkweed25 seeds3.00
Asclepias verticillataHorsetail milkweed25 seeds3.00
Astragalus canadensisCanadian Milkbetch20 seeeds3.00

Berlandiera texanaGreen eyes50 seeds3.00

Blephelia hirsutaHairy wood mint50 seeds3.00

Callirhoe bushiiBush's poppy mallow50 seeds3.00

Centaurea americanaBasketflower20 seeds3.00

Coreopsis tripterisTall tickseed50 seeds3.00

Diospyros  virginianaPersimmon10 seeds3.00
Echinacea pallidaPale Purple Coneflower50 seeds3.00

Echinacea purpureaPurple coneflower50 seeds 3.00

Echinacea tennessensisTennesee coneflower50 seeds3.00

Eryngium yuccifoliumRattlesnake master50 seeds3.00

Eupatorium maculatumSweet Joe Pye50 seeds3.00

Eupatorium serotinumLate Joe Pye50 seeds3.00
Helianthus mollisAshy sunflower50 seeds3.00

Helianthus silphoidesRosinweed sunflower50 seeds3.00

Hypericum hypercoides
v. hypercoides
St. Andrews cross20 seeds3.00

Hypericum prolificumShrubby St. John's Wort20 seeds3.00

Manfreda virginicaArkansas agave20 Seeds3.00

Marshallia caespitosaBarbara's Buttons50 seeds3.00

Penstemon arkansanaArkansas beardtongue 50 seeds

Penstemon digitalisBeardtongue50 seeds3.00

Penstemon murrayanousBig red penstemon10 seeds3.00

Penstemon teniusGulf coast penstemon50 seeds3.00

Phystostegia angustifoliaFalse dragonhead20 seeds3.00

Pityopsis gramnifoliaSilkgrass50 seeds3.00

Ratibida pinnataGrey headed conflower50 seeds3.00

Rudbeckia grandifloraLarge flowered
black-eyed susan
50 seeds3.00

Rudbeckia missouriensisMissouri blackeyed susan50 seeds3.00

Silene regiaRoyal catchfly50 seeds3.00

Silene stellataStarry campion50 seeds3.00

Silphium speciosumWholeleaf rosinweed25 seeds3.00

Sium suaveWater parsnip20 seeds3.00

Sorgastrum elliottiiSlender Indian Grass50 Seeds3.00

Sorgastrum nutansIndian grass50 seeds3.00

 Tridens flavus v. flavusPurpletop 50 seeds3.00


Additional Info:
Most wildflower seed will need 3-8 weeks cold stratification.  Some seed is so tiny that the seed appears as dust.  These tiny seed should be sprinkled on top of the soil and preferably bottom watered to avoid the seed being washed to the sides or edges of the tray.

02 November 2014

Anemone - Grecian Windflower

Anemone blanda White Splendor
Grecian Windflowers are popular as container grown spring bulbs or flower bed happy surprises. They are happy surprises because we tend to forget that we planted them and then in the spring their cheerful, daisy-like blooms pop up year after year.

They are positively delightful to plant near dwarf daffodil varieties such as March Sunshine and Rapture since they bloom around the same time and are about the same height - 6 to 12-inches, creating a sweet bouquet of their own.

Once they get started, Anemones can bloom for a month. If they like their new home they can spread by seed but mine never have. They do hang and in there and bloom for several years but they have never spread for me.

They are cold hardy to zone 5 and do well up to zone 8. Old House Gardens says the White Splendor was introduced in 1950 when it won an RHS award as "the strongest growing and dazzling"

Choose a spot in bright half-sun or half-shade, plant the corms on their edge in well-draining soil. I surround them with a little trough of perlite to help them not drown since our normal rainfall is over 40-inches annually.

I dig the hole 4 inches deep, put in an inch of perlite and then settle the corms, covering them with some native soil mixed with more perlite, about 70 percent soil to 30 percent perlite.

Like crocus bulbs, anemones are relocated by squirrels so protection is helpful. For crocus I use plastic berry baskets. For anemones I've found that topping the planting area with rocks from around the yard is enough to keep them from digging.

Anemone blanda White Splendor
Anemone corms can be soaked before planting or well-watered after planting.

They can also be forced for winter flowering by re-creating nature's process of chilling and warming them.

To force anemone corms -
1. Soak for a few hours in warm water.
2. Put horticultural grit (small stones or pea gravel) in the bottom of a container with holes.
3. Mix compost with more grit or potting soil with perlite to fill container 2/3 full.
4. Place anemone corms on top. One reference says that flat edge you see in the photo of my corms is where the leaves emerged last season so it would be planted up. Another resource says plant the point up. If you need to know which side goes up you can plant them 2-inches deep in moist sand and check them in a week or two. You will be able to see where the roots have grown.
5. Cover corms with more compost or sterile potting soil. Moisten thoroughly.
6. Put in cold, dark spot and check weekly so they don't dry out. Never let them stay soaking wet.
7. When leaves begin to emerge, place in warm, bright light.

By the way, Anemones are in the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup plant family, along with
 Clematis, Delphiniums, Nigella, Lesser Celandine and Helebores - ergo their preference for part-shade.

They are native to more than Greece even though their name is Grecian Wind Flower. They also are naive to Turkey, Lebanon and Syria.

According to MOBOT's Plant Finder they tolerate black walnut trees and are not eaten by deer. Good news for many gardeners!

23 October 2014

Divide and Plant spring blooming bulbs, garlic, onions

Cool fall temperatures and rain have created an ideal time to divide cold-hardy bulbs, plant garlic, and take care of a few other enjoyable tasks outside.
our Bluebells April 2014

For most gardeners, the word bulb includes bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes.

Spring flowers such as iris, lily, crocus, amaryllis, scilla (bluebells, etc.), daffodils and narcissus, all benefit from being dug up, divided, and replanted every 3 to 5 years.

You may have noticed that established clumps of bulbs have green shoots in the spring but flower only around the outer edge of the planting or produce no flowers at all.

Rather than letting them die out from lack of attention, grab a shovel and dig the clumps by inserting a shovel around the circumference of the planting. Then, carefully insert the shovel beneath the clump and lift the bulbs out. Daffodil clumps can be two or three layers deep; iris rhizomes and roots are shallow.

Place the entire clump of bulbs or corms onto a flat surface where they can be pulled apart and cleaned. Any bulb or corm that appears to be damaged or rotted should be discarded as you break the clump apart into individual pieces.

When you divide iris clumps you will notice that some corms toward the center have no roots on the bottom. They are dead and will not re-grow. Carefully separate the corms from each other, using a sharp knife to remove the little ones on the outer ring. Trim the leaves to one-third their growing height.

Either replant the separated pieces within a couple of days or store them in damp peat-moss away from direct sun and heat. Iris rhizomes are planted barely below the soil with the roots spread out and planted under the soil. The top of the rhizome can be exposed. Press the soil around the roots and water.

Planting depths vary. Chionodoxa (Glory in the Snow) and Galanthus (Snowdrop) 3 inches; Crocus 3-4 inches; Spanish Bluebells 5 inches; Grape hyacinth 4 inches, Tulips 3 to 5 inches depending on size and Daffodils also known as Narcissus 4 to 6 inches depending on size. The pointed end goes on the top and the flatter root end goes into the bottom of the hole.

Fall and spring blooming Crocus bulbs can emerge to the top of the ground when they become too crowded. Saffron crocus blooms in the fall; all the others bloom late-winter to early-spring. They are on sale at www.brecks.com.

If you missed buying spring flowering bulbs, most mail order companies still have some available. Sources include: Touch of Nature (www.touchofnature.com) and Colorblends (www.colorblends.com).

Mail order sources for garlic are sold out of their most popular varieties but these companies still have some and have been reliable for us: Keene Organics (keeneorganics.com) and Sand Hill Preservation (www.sandhillpreservation.com). Locally, Grogg’s Green Barn in Tulsa still had some last week. Garlic heads are broken into sections called seeds for planting; the heads are pulled apart like segments of an orange.

Onion sets can also still be planted. We have ordered from Dixondale Farms in TX (www.dixondalefarms.com). The sets come with instructions.

All of these bulbs, corms, rhizomes, etc. should go into the ground soon so they have time to form roots before the first freeze. Most are planted at least 3-inches apart.

Other than bluebells, these all thrive with 6-hours of sun; bluebells grow and multiply in woodland settings. In catalogs, Spanish bluebells are sold by their new name Hyacinthoides hispanica or their old names Scilla hispanica and Scilla campanulata. Whatever they are called, their late-spring bloom under trees should not be missed.

Afternoon shade is never a problem since our summers are so hot. All bulbs need to be watered-in after planting.

14 October 2014

Garlic planting day

Every year around this time we plant a couple hundred garlic seeds to be harvested next summer. What you see on the kitchen counter in the photo is a combination of what's left of the garlic we harvested this summer plus the garlic we purchased from Keene Organics.

After I pulled all the weeds, Jon harvested our compost to lay down a layer onto the raised garlic bed.

Then, I separated the heads of garlic into their cloves or seeds and handed them off for him to plant.

We decided to plant less this year - 150 instead of 200 and will know next year whether that is enough for us.

Organic Gardening recommends that you soak the cloves for two hours in baking soda and liquid seaweed. We've never done that but you can follow the link to read about their method.

Since we grew winter squash in the raised garlic bed this summer the soil will need some boost so we're going to fertilize a bit this year, although we usually do not bother.

Both Keen Organics, Seeds from Italy, and Sand Hill Preservation still have seed garlic left if you haven't purchased yet. Don't miss planting garlic, even if you have to put it in the flower beds. So delicious and not from China like grocery store garlic.

Also, be sure to mulch with something loose and organic. Straw works well if you have access to it. Rather than buying straw, we have always used pine needles from under our Loblolly Pine trees. We apply it 4 to 6 inches deep around the time of the first freeze to keep the ground from heaving with the freeze and thaw cycle over the winter.

13 October 2014

Guided Walk in Sand Springs Ancient Forest Oct 18 2014

Oklahoma Forestry Services invites avid hikers, casual walkers, nature lovers, families with strollers and seniors to take a walk in the Keystone Ancient Forest near Sand Springs from 8 am to 1 pm

Foresters will lead the walk and share information about the forests and trees and how foresters work to keep forests healthy and thriving. The walk will take about 1 1/2 hours if participants stop at each educational station. 

Sponsored by: Foresters and Natural Resource Professionals

from the Society of American Foresters, Oklahoma Forestry Services, Oklahoma State University and City of Sand Springs Parks and Recreation Department!

When: Gates are open from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  

Where: Keystone Ancient Forest, West of Sand Springs, OK
(From 209th West Avenue (Prue Road) and Highway 64 / 412 exit - Travel north along Prue Road approximately 2 miles. The entrance is directly across from the second cell phone tower and features a large sandstone and black iron gate)

Cost: Free

The Walk: We will follow an approximately 3 mile trail (round trip) through the Keystone Ancient Forest and learn about the unique ecoregion and forest type called the Cross Timbers.  On the trail, there will be educational stations and interpretive signs where you can learn about trees, the history and uniqueness of the Cross Timbers, and how professional foresters care for the forest.

Please dress appropriately for the weather and wear sturdy shoes.  The Walk through the Forest will take about 1 ½ hours if you stop at each station.  Each hiker will receive a free water bottle and water and snacks will be provided while supplies last.  Other educational brochures and giveaways will also be available, and professional foresters will be on hand to answer your questions about trees.  A special station for kids will offer fun hands-on Project Learning Tree activities and cool giveaways. 

If you have questions please contact Erin Johnson, OK Division SAF Chair at 405-640-9492 orerin.johnson@ag.ok.gov. To learn more about the Society of American Foresters go towww.safnet.org.

For more information contact Oklahoma Forestry Services at 918-522-6158 or visit http://www.forestry.ok.gov/walk-in-the-forest