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All things green
« on: July 13, 2009, 12:58:27 PM »

Countdown!
7 March 2009, 11:36 am

Eleven weeks to go til Memorial Day.

The race is on for me at work. I received most of my seeds during the past few days. That’s always exciting… better than a birthday present even!

All my seeds are annual flowers and vegetables.  I ordered 99 different varieties of seeds!   I went through all of the seed packets that I received and highlighted information such as when to start the seeds and at what temperature. Many of the seeds can be started at around 6 weeks before the last frost. I use Memorial Day as my “Blast Off” date and count down my calendar marking each week.  So, this  week is 11 weeks before Memorial Day.  April 5th Sunday would be 7 weeks before and so on.

A few seeds like petunias, impatiens, and alpine strawberries are planted at 10-12 weeks before the planting out date  so I’ve done most of those already.

The  first 2 full weeks in April will be when the most seeds are started including marigold, phlox, tomatoes, verbena, ageratum and some zinnias.

Four weeks before the Holiday some zinnias and nasturtiums are planted.

Of course lots of veggies are planted outside, such as carrots, lettuce, beans, pumpkins, and squash. Some plants just don’t do well when started inside.

The cool weather seeds such as peas, beets, carrots, radishes, and spinach can be planted outside even before all chance of frost  is finished.  They can  tolerate some frost. And in fact, they like cooler temperatures to germinate and grow in.

Other seeds such as squash, pumpkin, corn, and cucumber like to have warm temperatures to germinate and grow in.  Those seeds we will plant  after Memorial day.

By the way, the Red Wing Blackbirds are back, the Turkey Vultures have returned and the Spring Peepers are peeping in my back yard!  Those are true signs  that spring is coming soon!

Bye for now,

Judy



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Bloom Another Day
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2009, 12:58:27 PM »

Bloom Another Day
27 March 2009, 6:06 pm

We put up the 4th week of our spring Exhibit at the Gardens.  My volunteers look forward to doing it even though it is chaotic.  We have to take out the past weeks old faded bulb flowers and put in new fresh ones.  Seeing  the cheery  daffodils, beautiful tulips, elegant bleeding hearts and vibrant  hyacinths that one of the other horticulturists grows for the exhibit, is so refreshing at this time of year.  Especially on a gray darkish day like we sometimes have in March.  It really gets our hopes up for spring!

If you receive or buy a potted tulip or hyacinth or daffodil for Easter, you can save it and plant it outside to bloom another year.  The simplest way is to plant the whole pot in the ground after danger of frost is passed.  Another way is to care for the bulb foliage in the pot, giving it light fertilizer and partial sun.  Once the foliage has turned yellow , cut the leaves off and take the bulbs out of the soil and store in a mesh bag, hanging it in a dry place like the garage.  Tulip bulbs are especially prone to rooting  if they stay too moist all summer.

Then replant the bulbs in the fall. Bulbs that have been forced used up a lot of energy so they will not flower again the next year.  It may take 2 or 3 years of growing and storing energy from the sunshine before they have enough energy to bloom again.

A lot of tulips actually don’t come back well.  Species tulips and old varieties are more likely to come back again.  Hyacinths usually come back and bloom again and daffodils come back very well.  You can even get daffodils to naturalize very well.

Enjoy your beautiful flowers this Easter and then enjoy them for years to come!

Happy spring,

Judy



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Presidential Mishap in Rose Garden
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2009, 12:58:27 PM »

Presidential Mishap in Rose Garden
1 April 2009, 6:39 am

The economy and auto maker bail-outs have dominated the news so much that some of the stories that would normally be reported don’t get much coverage.

We have heard so much in the past about the White House Rose Garden, but are you aware that other plants are grown in the Rose Garden as well?  The White House gardeners have almost unlimited resources when it comes to plants and other gardening related items.  Many exotic species can be found growing there.

Several days ago, one of the more unusual plants caused the President Obama to have a some-what embarrassing moment.  Apparently he had a minor altercation with one of the Giant Venus Fly-trap plants growing in the Rose Garden. He suffered some minor scratches but shook it off in a good natured manner.

You can read the entire account by clicking here.

The last time I visited the White House I managed to snap a photo of one of these remarkable plants:



I’ll try to keep up with other newsworthy Presidential plant related articles in the future and share them with you on this site.

Bob



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Easter Lily Care and Re-bloom
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2009, 01:00:11 PM »

Easter Lily Care and Re-bloom
13 April 2009, 7:19 pm



 

I have found that there are two different groups of people when it comes to caring for an Easter lily after Easter.

One group of  simply let their Lily “run its  course” and then toss it away after it starts to fade. Most of these folks probably water the plant once or twice and then let it go.

On the other side of the equation is a group of people who would like to keep their Lily blooming as long as possible and maybe even save it for next year. Since you are reading this post, I’ll assume you belong to the second group and are interested in getting the most out of your Lily.

Easter Lilies like to be in a cool bright spot when they are inside a house. So, if you have a choice where to place it, choose the cooler spot away from any heating vents jut as long as it gets light from the window. Don’t worry too much about it though.

More important than location is watering. Since most Easter Lilies come with a pot wrapper, it is easy to kill a Lily with too much water.  The wrapper will trap water and not allow it to drain away, this will cause the roots to become water-logged and eventually die. This is the most common mistake people make in caring for their Lily. Be sure to dump out the excess water that drains into the wrapper after watering.



Cut off the blossoms as they fade. Once all the blossoms have come and gone, just care for it like a house plant. Feel the soil with your finger to get an idea how dry it is. The top of the soil should look and feel dry before watering again. 



I also like to pick up the pot and feel how much it weighs, a dry pot will feel quite a bit lighter than a wet or damp pot.

Sometime around Memorial Day, plant the Lily into a flower bed or other area with good soil and sunlight.

Sometimes the existing stalk will die back. When this happens, the Lily bulb will send up a new shoot and continue growing through the summer.

Then in the following year your Lily will surprise you with blossoms in July. They always surprise me because I usually forget that I planted them there until they bloom.

They don’t naturally bloom during Easter, we have to give them special conditions in a greenhouse to force them to do that. Forcing Easter Lilies is a complicated procedure. We force over 200 Lilies every year. It’s fun but also a challenge because Easter Sunday changes from year to year!

There’s no Federal law saying you have to save your Lily (at least not yet )  but it is easy to do and a lot of fun.

Bob



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Gardening Live Chat
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2009, 01:00:11 PM »

Gardening Live Chat
2 May 2009, 6:05 pm

Our Monroe County Consumer Horticulture Educator, Jenny Stanger, will be hosting a Live Chat on Tuesday May 5th beginning at 11:30 am.

Jenny is your direct link to all of the horticulture resources at Michigan State University, so this will be a good chance to get your specific gardening questions answered right on the spot in real time.

Bob



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New Bees
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2009, 01:00:11 PM »

New Bees
7 May 2009, 7:32 pm

Last week I received some replacement bees that I ordered back in January. I needed them for the hives that were lost earlier in the year.

You can purchase bees from various bee supply stores. They are not sold by the dozen or by the gross, instead you buy them by the pound, usually in 2 or 3 pound packages.  I bought the 3 pound size (about 12,000 bees).  It makes sense that the more individual bees you start out with, the quicker you can get your beehive up to optimum working strength for nectar collection and honey making.

The packaged bees are raised and then shipped from Florida. They make it to their new home in Michigan in less than a day by truck.

The shipping container is a wood frame box covered with window screening.



By prying open the top cover you can see that the container includes a can of sugar water for the bees to eat on their journey north.



A small screened cage that houses the honey bee queen is suspended inside the bee package as well. Keeping the queen in her own protective cage keeps her safe during the journey.



 

I had to take out the sugar water can so that the bees could be released through the opening.



Then the queen cage was removed.



The queen cage was hung between a couple of hive frames. The frames are what holds the honey combs in place inside the hive.



The fun part is when you shake the bees out of the container. I shook a few over the frames.



 The rest were poured out near the front entrance of the hive. They started up into the hive right away. The queen bee gives off a special scent that lets all of her worker bees know where she is at all times.



I added some sugar water in a plastic feeder and closed the whole thing up with an empty hive box.



Tomorrow I’ll check the new hives to make sure the queens are still alive . If so, then I’ll be pretty sure that the new hives have gotten off to a good start.

Bob



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Longer Lasting Lilac Blossoms
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2009, 02:00:15 PM »

Longer Lasting Lilac Blossoms
16 May 2009, 8:31 pm

It seems that the Lilacs are producing many more blooms than normal this year. Apparently the long, cold winter didn’t bother them at all.

This means there are so many more blossoms to cut for inside the house. Inside you can enjoy a close-up look at the flowers and smell their wonderful scent!

We have three varieties of Lilacs on the property to choose from; white, dark purple and traditional Lilac color. Each one has a slightly different smell. Placing all three together in a vase like this gives you a really complex aroma to enjoy.



Now, Lilacs differ from many other cut flowers in that they  flower on woody branches. This changes how they are handled after cutting.

The more water a flower stem takes in, the fresher and longer lasting it stays. To accomplish this, gardeners have discovered a little trick for cut Lilacs.

Start by snipping the stem to its final length, one that fits the size of vase. Then take a pair of pliers and crush the cut end of the stem and place the stem immediately into the water. This helps water to move up into the stem where it is most needed.



Cut Lilacs are not the longest lasting cut flower by any means, but by using this simple trick, you can enjoy them for a bit longer.

Bob



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Poison Ivy
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2009, 02:00:16 PM »

Poison Ivy
13 June 2009, 10:41 am

Judy and I have been spending many, many hours each day in our gardens. May and early June are particularly busy for us. We do have help however.

Every year we have to remind our helpers about Poison Ivy. Some learn very quickly how to identify it while others need a little more time.

If you are spending any time at all outdoors, chances are you may encounter this plant.

Poison Ivy is easy to spot once you know what to look for. The most noticeable characteristic is its three leaflets.

Notice on the plant shown below how the three leaflets look.



This is a Poison Ivy plant that has been cut back numerous times, it’s a little weak and the leaves are fairly small but still is recognizable. It almost looks like a small tree seedling.

On this next photo we see Poison Ivy in its climbing form growing up the side of a building. The three leaflets are clearly noticeable.  Also, notice how much larger they are.



Now in this case, the owner of the building wanted a decorative vine to climb up the brick wall. He went to the nursery and picked out a very nice vine and planted it. So far so good.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, a Poison Ivy plant has taken root right next to it and is over-growing the decorative vine.

If you look close, to the right of the photo,you can see a vine with only a single leaf growing habit, that is the vine the owner planted and it’s not competing very well against the Poison Ivy.

The owner insists that the Poison Ivy vine is the decorative vine he planted! Poison Ivy has the most beautiful red colored leaves  in the fall. No wonder he can’t believe it’s Poison Ivy.

There are other plants that have three leaflets, brambles such as wild raspberry are one example. Their leaves are fuzzy and the vines have thorns on them while Poison Ivy is smooth all over.

So, enjoy the outdoors but watch out for Poison Ivy and remember that old saying…”leaflets three, let it be”.

Bob



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Gardens of Eden Tour
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2009, 02:00:16 PM »

Gardens of Eden Tour
23 June 2009, 9:06 pm

Perennial, ponds, passionflowers, Petoskey stones and more all in one tour. What more could you ask for? If you asked for bonsai, garden sculpture, roses and raised beds, then you would be getting closer to what you will find at the 2009 Gardens of Eden Garden Tour.

What’s more, you won’t have to travel 100’s of miles to another state to experience this wonderful tour because it happens right here in the Monroe area.

It’s coming up quick…this Saturday 11:00am ’til 5:00pm…rain or shine.

Your ten dollar ticket goes to help charities in the Monroe area.

Click here to find out the rest of the details.  I suggest clicking on the link even if you think you’re not going, the photos of the gardens on the tour are great and I’m sure visiting the gardens  in person will be very rewarding.

Bob



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Eremurus-Foxtail Lily
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2009, 03:00:19 PM »

Eremurus-Foxtail Lily
3 July 2009, 11:00 pm

This time of the year it is always a treat to see the Eremurus blooming. Because we have them planted in an area under the walnut trees where not much else is growing, they seem to shoot up  out of nowhere.

Foxtail Lilies in bloom

As you may or may not know, it is nearly impossible to grow most plants under Black Walnut trees, but the Eremurus seems to live there just fine.

These plants are native to Tibet where the summers are hot and dry but have good fall and spring rainfall. This often describes the weather in this part of the country as well.  It’s no wonder that Foxtail Lilies do well here.

Our Eremurus are the yellow variety (bungei) and range from 3 to 4 feet tall.

From a distance, the hundreds of tiny flowers on the stalk merge together to give them their unique look.

Eremurus Flowers

It’s when you get closer that the individual flowers become apparent.



Foxtail Lilies are grown from tuberous roots that in themselves have a unique shape, they sort of remind me of star fish.

Fall is the time when the roots are planted, so you have some time to track some down and get them ordered.  We got ours from K. van Bourgondien and Sons  (dutchbulbs.com).

There is one thing I would recommend when planting your Foxtail Lily this fall, and that is to mulch them well. They are a little weak getting started the first fall.  However, after that, they thrive here in southern Michigan.

So, put Eremurus  on your fall ” must-buy list”.

Bob



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Potted Olive
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2009, 02:26:23 PM »

Potted Olive
13 July 2009, 7:42 pm

One of my favorite potted plants is our Olive Tree.  We have two of these trees in pots and they seem to be quite happy living in their containers.

They don’t have big showy flowers or give off a sweet scent. What I like is their graceful form.

[img]http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o132/r...

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All things green: Dakota Gold!
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2009, 10:00:03 PM »

Dakota Gold!
28 July 2009, 9:20 pm

Thar’s gold in them thar hills!!

Not the precious metal type of gold, but the horticultural kind you can find in Helenium ‘Dakota Gold’.

Helenium is the genus name for a grouping of plants that includes Sneezeweed. Many of these species and varieties are tall, often growing over ...

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All things green: At the Fair
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2009, 12:00:06 PM »

At the Fair
4 August 2009, 5:20 pm

I hope many of you are enjoying the Monroe County Fair. If not, you better get out there soon because fair week is about half over. My how time flies!

Which reminds me, Judy and I will be at the Monroe Evening News booth on Wednesday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm or so. We will be joining other bloggers fr...

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All things green: Bloggers and the Fair
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2009, 12:00:06 PM »

Bloggers and the Fair
6 August 2009, 9:33 pm

If you didn’t make it out to fair yesterday (Wednesday), you’re too late!

The Monroe Evening News hosted a “Meet the Bloggers” evening in their County Fair booth.  It was a good chance for readers and bloggers to talk to each other face to face.

So, if you missed us, plan ...

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All things green: Balance of Nature in Your Garden
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2009, 10:00:05 AM »

Balance of Nature in Your Garden
15 August 2009, 7:58 am

I came across this horn worm on our grapes this morning. There were over 2 dozen white objects attached to its body.



It had been parasitized by another insect, most likely some species of wasp.

These types of wasps repro...

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