Friday, February 26, 2010

Newcomers Master Gardener Course, Master Gardener Winter School & 1st Annual Lawn and Garden Show

From In the Garden


The Montgomery County Master Gardener Association (MCMGA) will be sponsoring a newcomers mini master gardener course beginning March 2. Lectures include such diverse subjects as composting, container gardening, perennials and herbs. All classes will meet each Tuesday at 7:00 pm downtown Clarksville in the United Methodist Church. The cost is only $40; which equates to about $5 per speaker-a steal! All lecturers will be local master gardeners who are volunteering to share their expertise and knowledge with you. Door prizes will be available each evening so come, make some friends. learn something new about gardening and have fun! Call Karla Kean at: (931)648-5725 for more information and to sign up. These lectures are open to everyone. There are no tests or volunteer hours involved. Even if you don't live within the local community come and sign up if you are interested in the lectures and can drive to the meetings. All gardeners and wanna be gardeners are welcomed.

From In the Garden

Speaking of meetings and master gardeners, I am only going to briefly mention the Master Gardener Winter School I attended in Murfreesboro. The hosts (Rutherford County) were most gracious and organized. The whole community pulled together to make the school fun, healthy, and wonderful for the 100+ master gardeners who showed up for the event. There were five attendees from my county (Montgomery County). Three of us are pictured above, from left to right: Terri, Julie, and myself.
There were three parts of the school and not all master gardeners attended all three parts so that is why the other two master gardeners are not shown. Julie and I attended the Tennessee Yards and Neighborhoods Done Right workshop and the educational track. We missed the leadership part of the school but I bet it was fun too. We all got lots of tips and lessons for providing service to our communities as master gardeners. It was really fun. I must say talking with the other gardeners and meeting Tennessee master gardeners from across the state (from Chattanooga to Kingsport to Memphis and everything in between) was probably the best part of the whole conference for me.

One more thing. The Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring its first Annual Lawn, Farm and Garden Show. The show will be held in Austin Peay's Red Barn located at 256 Marion Street in Clarksville from 10-8 pm on Saturday, 27 February, and from 12-8 pm on Sunday, 28 February 2010. General admission is $5 and children under 12 get in free. There will be lots of give a ways and several vendors showcasing new things....

in the garden....

We had some grackles come visit us recently. They are really pretty and unique looking birds and didn't bother the normal songbirds at the feeders. They loved those sunflower seeds.

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Thursday, February 25, 2010

They're Here

By Skeeter It is that time of year again here in my Georgia Garden. Do you remember the Blockbuster Movie Poltergeist? That was one scary movie in 1982 and still scares me today!
The most vivid line of the movie is when the little girl is watching TV and it starts going haywire then she says, "They're Here." I have my own Poltergeist in my garden in the form of little balls.
I have talked about these pesky Sweet Gum Tree Seed Pods in the past. Some of you wanted a few and I passed them along. Dawn made Wreaths while I made Reindeer . I saw a new craft made from gum balls while in TN for Christmas. My sister-in-law had painted them Gold and put ribbon on them with her Day Care children. They were pretty little shiny Balls hanging on the childrens' Christmas Tree. That's Right, they were pretty to my eyes. But they are not pretty to my eyes on the ground in my gardens! They dull the lawn mower blades until they rot, they sprout seedlings all over the place and they are difficult to get off the grass and driveway. I personally hate the things! Although I did enjoy seeing a flock of sparrows eating the seeds recently.
The trees are loaded with them and they will be a pain in my back for about the next 4 months or so as I gradually get them up! Arggggggg...Some Gum Trees show wonderful color in the fall but our gums have only been pretty one time in the 8 years we have lived here. Well, let me rephrase that. They were pretty during one fall and one winter. Winter being when the snow fell on them 12 days ago. I must admit, they were pretty covered with white fluff. The little Gum Balls were grabbing the snow as if a blanket to protect them self from the cold temperatures. Even though pretty being snow covered, I still hate the things in my yard! I so wish I could remove everyone of those trees from our land and replace them with something more practical. We have way too many and I must continue to deal with them in my own way as if my little round Poltergeist. THEY'RE HERE, In the Garden...

Note: Cameron tells me, Sweet Gums are in the Witch Hazel family! I find that an interesting fact...

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wildflower/Native Wednesday-Lycopodium

From In the Garden
Did you guess what the native plant was based on my clues last week? Isn't learning just great? This week's contribution to Wildflower/Native Wednesday is Lycopodium digitatum or complanatum, aka Running Cedar, Southern Running Cedar or Pine, and also Christmas Green. Congrats if you guessed it correctly!

I have a wonderful natural area where I try to walk each week. The total walk is about 4.5 miles; which takes me a long time to walk (don't ask how long). On these walks nature usually calls. Finding a convenient spot is not difficult and due to my Army days I am not averse to taking care of nature in the wild-I always come prepared. Anyhow, on one of my side jaunts I found this wonderful groundcover. Can you see all the green in the above picture? Wowser! What can it be? This spot of green in the dead of winter?

From In the Garden
Let's move in for a closer look. Isn't it wonderful? Don't you just want to touch it. I did and I also knew I had to know what it was. This lycopodium is growing in full shade! Okay, so maybe some sun comes through the deciduous trees but there is also another stand of the lycopodium in this natural area that is growing under cedar trees. No sun will ever reach it there. Anything that grows in full shade is a good thing for me and gets my attention. Now to identify the plant.

I came home from my walk really anxious to try to identify this plant. I knew it smelled like an Eastern red cedar and it was also scaly like red cedars. It grew all along the ground so I figured it was a ground cover. I searched the web and all my garden books for an evergreen groundcover that smells and looks like a juniper-something to that effect. No luck. Evergreen groundcover Google searches come up with such things as pachysandra, liriope, the dreaded vinca and others. I knew my plant was none of these. I grew a bit frustrated but then I remembered I had seen this plant on a blog at some point. I did not know which blog but knew it was either Les at a Tidewater Gardener or How it Grows. Both bloggers are located in Virginia. Considering how many blogs I read I was very happy I could narrow it down to just these two bloggers. I immediately emailed them both. Both were nice enough to respond to me with an identification (this was back in December while I was on break). I was so happy to learn the identity of this groundcover! Les also sent me a link to his post that mentioned Running Cedar. Thanks guys! I very much appreciate your help! You see how we learn from blogging and from one another? This is one very important reason I blog-to learn.

From In the Garden

Now for a bit more learning and research into this plant. When I Google 'running cedar' or lycopodium I find the results to be rather disappointing. There are a few results-mainly the websites have some pictures and do identify it but they don't give much information on the plant. I'd like to know a bit about the plant like its history and uses. I was able to find a listing in my Southern Living Garden Book! Kudos to Southern Living! The entry is very light on information concerning lycopodium but at least it was listed. Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants does not mention lycopodium at all. I also can't seem to find lycopodium in other books but I'm still looking. I am not sure if Lycopodium digitatum and complanatum are the same thing or not but they look to be the same on the websites I found listing them. I did find one website that said the old name was complanatum but that it is now digitatum but I'm not sure if it is a regional difference or not. Scientist I am not so I will stick with lycopodium, aka running cedar for this lovely groundcover.

One thing I am sure of is that this running cedar is in the Lycopodiaceae
family. This family is known as a club moss family. Club mosses are fern allies. Fern allies grow in the same conditions as ferns but are not true ferns botanically speaking even though they reproduce by spores-they do not flower or grow seeds (this lycopodium also spreads by runners). Do you remember my post last spring about spike moss? Spike moss is in the family Selaginella and is also a fern ally. I find fern allies a fascinating group of plants and would like to grow them here in my garden. If you know more about running cedar or fern allies please weigh in on the issue so we can all learn. Thanks.

Be sure to visit Gail at Clay and Limestone for more Wildflower Wednesday posts....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gourds Again

By Skeeter
One of the most rewarding experiences of gardening here in my Georgia Garden was the growing of gourds. Why would gourds be so rewarding you may ask? Well, I can dry them and enjoy them in many ways. In the above picture, you see my gourd crop of 2008 drying. Click Here if you would like to see the Posting on my process of Gourd Drying. I turned the larger of the gourds into birdhouses for my feathered friends of nature. The smaller 3 that I have outlined for you, somehow got lost in the fold. I found them recently and decided it was time to play with them. The odd ball one to the right of those, was recently found in my storage closet after I played with the other gourds. It took many months to dry and I forgot about it until spotting it a few days ago, long after I played with the other forgotten gourds. Make note to self: You are not as organised as you think you are.... First step was to spray paint them white.
Here are those 3 gourds now! The two smaller ones are now ornaments which will be placed on my Snowman Themed Christmas Tree! The larger snowman in the middle will be placed amongst my other snowman items for Christmas as well as during the winter months. I had fun crafting with my gourds and even tried my hand at painting a bit with the clown looking ornament. I know one thing for sure, my eyes "aint" what they use to be! I had to wear reading glasses to make these things! Hum, A sign of aging. Sigh...

Now to my crop of gourds for 2009. I had 14 (difficult to see are two different colored gourds already drying to the front on the left side) of them grow for me this go round. With tons of rain fall during the season, some of the gourds rotted. I ended up with successfully drying about 10 gourds.
This past weekend our temperatures climbed to 70 degrees! Yep, we had just under 7 inches of snow on the ground the previous weekend! Gotta love this Deep South living. Ha... With birds singing in the air, the Saint and I had to get the larger of the gourds made into bird houses for our wild feathered friends. If you would like to see that process, Click HERE to see the posting on it from last year.

I am happy to say, we were able to make 3 wonderful bird houses from the larger of the gourds! They are now hanging in 2 Crepe Myrtle and 1 Crab apple trees. The smaller of the gourds remain hanging in the shed to dry or for me to forget about them. Ha, I will find a craft for them in time.
Last year we had 4 gourd houses in place for the birds. The Eastern Bluebirds had two broods in this one gourd-house pictured above. The other 3 were never utilized as we think they were too small. Well, one became home to a very large spider for a while, Yikes!
It was most rewarding to peek inside the gourd house and see the baby blue birds calling it their temporary home! I am so rewarded knowing that I grew the gourd, dried it and turned it into a home for the wildlife! Nature is so rewarding indeed...

We are hoping that all 3 of the new gourd houses will be home to some type of bird this spring. I will keep you posted.

I took the seeds from the gourds and sprinkled them into the once veggie garden for them to take hold for more bird houses next year!

The Saint and I had so much fun growing and playing with the GOURDS AGAIN, In the Garden...

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Monday, February 22, 2010

Crown of Thorns

Posted by: Dawn

The Northern United States is in the mode of "February Freeze". February Freeze is the time when the temperature is at its coldest of all year. It hasn't been too bad though except for the lack of snow here in Maine it's been pretty warm. However, not warm enough to get things growing in the garden or yard.

So, to combat boredom as a direct result of cabin fever I let my mind wonder to the many houseplants I'm caring for. I say caring for because most of them won't live on sheer neglect as is my usual M.O. A classic one is the Crown of Thorns my mother gifted me almost two years ago.

Crown of Thorns or Euphorbia milii is believed to be native to Madagascar. King Juba II (50 BC to 19 AD) was the first to identify it. Euphorbia was the name of the King's Greek physician. Milii is named for the governor who introduced its cultivation into France in 1821.

Crown of Thorns is presumed to be the plant used in the crucifixion of Jesus. The stem is very pliable and easy to form wreath-like circles which lay atop Jesus' head. It's the only plant with sets of double thorns.

I was amazed to read that Crown of Thorns is actually a spiny, woody, succulent, considered a tropical shrub (Zone 10) that will trellis to six feet if trained to do so. It will flower colorful bracts at the end of the stems usually situated in a nest of double leaves. The bloom ranges from less than a BB size to 1/2''. When this succulent is not happy it will defoliate it's leaves leaving doubles on the tips. When happy it will bloom all year long. Mine sat near my deck doors for almost two years until I had to move it at Christmas to make room for a tree. Lo-and-behold it started sprouting all over. For two years I believed it was dying as nothing changed about it. I decided that if it liked this view better than the other it could remain in its new spot to hopefully thrive. Crown of Thorns is also related to it's famous cousin, the poinsettia. Perhaps that would better explain it's touchiness.

Finally, this plant is a member of the Spurge family and being such it weeps a sticky white sap when injured or pruned. The sap is the primary ingredient in latex and will cause a rash much like poison ivy. In earlier centuries the sap was applied to the ends of arrows and fish were caught this way. It is for that reason you will generally not find any Crown of Thorns planted around fish ponds as a broken root will kill every fish in the water. The sap and entire plant is highly toxic when ingested; which gives it protection from hungry herbivores.

(Does it really need it!?!)

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Friday, February 19, 2010

Native Plants and Plant Collecting

From In the Garden

******PSA*****Tomorrow's workshop on Tennessee Yards/Neighborhoods Done Right is CANCELED! ***

The one thing I have always valued most from blogging is learning. I am a life long learner and consider learning to be a basic principle and tenet of my life. It sounds corny but it is true and probably explains why I've attended college in some form or another for more than twenty years. Yes, you heard right-more than twenty years. Some of my close friends and family consider me a 'professional student'. I consider that a great compliment even if it is meant in a fun way instead of a serious way because learning is great!

Prior to beginning this blog in September of 2007 I knew very little about native plants. In fact, I kind of knew nothing. Yes, sure, I knew there was a native plant movement and that there were purists who espoused only native plants. I understood native plants are adapted to the their natural location and that they required less maintenance, but I just did not know enough about the plants themselves in order to really focus on native plantings so I never really paid much attention to the movement-until now.

The one thing I have always paid attention to was plant collecting. My number one goal for my garden is biodiversity. To me biodiversity means the greatest number of living organisms living together in a harmony. Specifically, I wish for a wide variety of plants (trees, shrubs, perennials, etc) for the pleasure of viewing, touching, smelling, and perhaps tasting. I also wish for these diverse plants to attract a great deal of other living creatures-insects such as butterflies, frogs, toads, and other small amphibians, and all birds-no deer, chipmunks, voles or squirrels need apply. I think a wider range of plants is more likely to attract more wildlife and so I collect plants. But let's be honest, I also collect plants to have the plants for my pleasure and to be the first one on the block with that new plant or that cool plant or the plant that no one else has or can get to grow. Yes, I will admit it all-plant collecting is for me.

I try to put all plants together in a fashion that pleases me. I envision sweeping English styled borders right next to moss carpeted woodland paths where trilliums bloom with abandon. I want the tallest oak tree, the greenest lawn, and the largest stand of brilliant coneflowers, I want it all in my garden. The reality is this, I can't have it all. After gardening here for eight years I've come to realize my dream of English styled borders will not work under the mature oaks and other trees I have on my property. I have had to adjust my vision of what type of plants and gardens please me.

It has been a struggle but one long overdue. I am now focusing more on shade plants and shade tolerant plants than any other type of plant. It is a bitter pill for me to swallow but after many failures in my garden I've decided to really work with my garden and change my focus from those English styled borders to a more natural setting. I have some spots that do receive some sun and I will still work within every square inch of those areas to grow the perennials I so love, but I am focusing more on native plants. And let me tell you why.

The biggest reason I am focusing on native plants in addition to learning about them more in depth-thanks to blogging-has been that many native plants are adapted to the shady conditions in my garden. If you think about it you will realize why. My area of the country is covered by deciduous forests. It is the primary biome of Tennessee and much of the southeastern United States. I think the term is called 'temperate deciduous forest biome' and explains why so many oaks, maples, hickories, and many other trees grow in this region. All of these types of trees make their home in my garden. I love my trees but the trade off is I have to choose more shade tolerant, and in most cases, less colorful plants to grow under the trees.

Fortunately, due to my plant collecting I have inadvertently already added many natives to my garden as well as non-natives and even some exotic plants. I am not going to stop collecting plants but I do plan to be more aware of a plant's origin when purchasing a new plant. This will give me an edge in ensuring a plant is adaptable to my climate and growing conditions regardless of whether the plant is native or non-native. Starting next Wednesday I've added another standard day posting to my monthly calender on my sidebar. Gail of Clay and Limestone posts a Wildflower Wednesday on her blog the fourth Wednesday of the month. I have learned so much from her blog regarding wildflowers and natives and for that I am most grateful to her. Since I had that Wednesday free I thought it would be an ideal 'Standard Day Posting' to add to my blog. Bear with me as I post on natives and wildflowers because I am still learning.

I am going to include not only wildflowers but natives on this Wednesday. I don't think the two are the same thing so I've taken a bit of a liberty with Gail's meme. Next Wednesday's post will see my first native plant posting. I have two Virginia bloggers to thank for identifying the plant for me and I will publicly thank them in that post. Like I said I am not too good with these natives so without the help of other bloggers-like you-I could never learn and I tell you that would not be a good thing for me-professional student or not:)

Now for a clue or two as to what this native plant might be:

1. It is evergreen.
2. It looks and smells like a Eastern red cedar but grows only 4" high.
3. It is a groundcover.
4. It grows in full shade-a bonus!

Check in next Wednesday for the answer. I could not find this plant in my books and there is scant information on the web about it. Please no guesses on this post. If you know the plant check in next Wednesday and say so then. Let's all learn together. Thanks.

in the garden....

The pictured wildflower above was identified by Gail. Thanks! It is a crinkled toothwort (Cardamine diphylla). It is so exciting seeing the stirrings of new life in the ground-native or not:)

I have been out of town on a garden learning trip, but will return later this evening and be around to visit all my blogging friends as soon as I am able to unwind and unpack. Thanks for visiting and be sure to put your thinking cap on for identifying this beautiful native plant I'll feature next week.

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Winter Damage

By Skeeter The sun is shining in my Georgia Garden today! A perfect time to take inventory of any damage the weekend snow fall may have caused. Above is the picture of my favorite Azalea Bush weighted down with snow. As you can see, she is a tough girl as she is once again standing tall with no damage! The Azalea's in the woods, even though protected a bit from the trees above, had a white blanket on them as well. Now standing tall and proud! I was not too worried about the front planters as the Camellia and Japanese Maples are stout thus, looked as though they were holding their own. However, the Nandina was a mere blob under the heavy snow. Upright she stands today! The snow really did weigh heavy on the Nandina's and I just knew there would be damage. But no damage could be seen by my eyes! The branches of the bush are pretty flexible to say the least. The snow covered planters were really pretty covered in white. I am thrilled to see them happy in the shining sun today! The Butterfly Bushes were so full of snow they were lying on the ground as if dead for sure. But a few hours with warm sunshine on them, and they sprung back to life as well... Since we do not normally have such snow falls in our neck of the woods, we do not own a snow shovel. In order to keep the snow off the front walk way to the house which faces north, I was sweeping the snow off with a broom every 40 minutes or so. One time as I was sweeping I heard this awful snapping. I turned to see this tree fall into our yard. Yikes, good thing we postponed our planned Virginia trip over the long weekend. We now had work to tend instead of playing. Arggggg, it never ends around here... The snow continued to fall after the tree was lying on the ground. It was a pretty piece of art work made by nature but must not stay in place. This tree is always the first to drop her leaves in the fall. I do not think she was healthy for a long time. She was leaning really badly towards our yard. I have talked about this tree in the past. If you missed that Posting, Click HERE to see the Winged Elm's story. As you can see, the tree was practically uprooted. The Elm was sitting in a pool of water. Look at the puddle under the root ball. We have had excessive amounts of rain fall the past several months and this ares is where the rain drains or should I say does not drain properly like most of our backyard. The tree is actually over our back fence and belongs to the land owners behind our property. They do not have a house on this land as it belongs to nature for now. So we decided to not bother the land owner and remove the tree ourselves. It also knocked over the fence post so we will repair that as well. We spent the day cutting the smaller branches and twigs and relocating them to the brush pile. The yard is so soggy that we were making ruts in the ground with the wheel barrow. We have decided that since the tree is arched and not too much of her is touching the ground, that we will leave her be for now. We fear we will do more damage to the yard if we cut up large heavy logs with the ground being so fragile. We will wait until the yard dries a bit to remove her. Gee, that condo living is sure looking good right about now. hee hee... Lookie lookie what I spotted today! The first bloom on a Spirea! Also the trees are budding! And my most happiest moment was when I spotted this bud on a Daffy! I never have luck with daffodils returning for me so I am most excited to see this bud...
Here are some of my friends that were not bothered by the white stuff falling last Friday evening.

Over all, One tree lost but no more WINTER DAMAGE, In the Garden...

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Veggie Garden Update-February 2010 and PSA

From In the Garden

I don't have much of a veggie garden update this month. In fact, I'm actually out of town for a few days on a garden trip so I had not planned to post at all. I decided to post to let my local readers know about a great class going on this weekend and to give a short veggie garden update. The good news from the vegetable garden is that I still have a veggie left over from last summer's vegetable garden! Just look at that great Waltham butternut squash above. We have not yet eaten it but will soon. It has kept wonderfully on my sideboard all these months. Winter squash is on the list for this summer's garden too! We eat a lot of greens here so lettuce is a big vegetable for us this year. I've started three different types inside with even more planned for outside. Given how small my vegetable garden is I really have to double plant and plan well. I think growing lettuce under the vining crops will help to keep it cool and hopefully we'll have lettuce all summer. It sure will be good with fresh tomatoes and peppers. Here is a long shot of my coldframe on the southwestern side of the vegetable garden. Chinese cabbage, turnip greens, some lettuce seedlings, and some spinach are still hanging tough. This picture was obviously taken prior to all the snow coming. Right now most of the garden is white but you can see the turnip greens in this picture and get an idea what my coldframe looks like. I need to do some work on it as far as the windows. I purposely left the middle window like it is. I'm sure it doesn't help with holding heat in but what I have growing under it is Culver's root seeds (Thanks Cameron!). These seeds need winter stratification so I figured the moisture, snow and all, would not hurt them. The rest of the greens have hung on but for the most part I leave the windows off. I've decided to grow the following this year: carrots, lettuces, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini (over hubby's protests), winter squash, bushel gourds, kale, peas, cabbage, and garlic come this fall. Now that is narrowed down I can relax. Planning is half the battle! Let's just hope I can fit it all in!

**********Public Service Announcement**********

Now on to this weekend's class. It is called Tennessee Yards Done Right! It is a program sponsored by the extension office and is mainly focused on controlling rainwater runoff and the resulting erosion. This is a hot topic around here due to many yards being hilly and sloping. So many locals have issues with erosion that this workshop should come in handy for you. Class will be from 8:30-4:30 pm on Saturday, February 20, 2010 at the United Methodist Church on Madison Street. The cost is $35 and you get a lot of goodies in addition to the classes (including a rain gauge). This is a no obligation class and I can assure you it will give you lots of information for making your yard 'right'. I like this class so much I'll be in a working session in Murfreesboro today studying the exact same thing. If you are interested in this class call (931)648-5725. You can also sign up at the door Saturday morning but it would be best to let Karla know you'll be coming.

Again, I'll be out of town for a few days and will be around to visit you all when I get back....

in the garden.....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden