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Archives for June 1, 2017

Old-timey gardening tips learned from my grandparents

Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 9:00 am

Old-timey gardening tips learned from my grandparents


By Penny Warner

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      Wednesday, May 31, 2017 9:00 am.

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      Flower fans trade gardening tips at Hammond giveaway

      Mary Reeves has one annual spring ritual she never strays from.

      For the past few years, the Hammond resident always is the first in line at the city’s Annual Flower Giveaway. This year was no exception, as she arrived at 6:30 a.m. Doors were scheduled to open at 10 a.m.

      “Every year, I want to be the first one through the door,” she said, with a laugh. “It doesn’t matter what the weather is, I’m here.

      This year she was greeted with a chilly, gray, and rainy day.

      June gardening tips

      Summer officially arrives at 11:24 p.m. June 20. It is our longest day of the year and promises to be a hot and humid season if the past few days can be used as a forecast. So here are gardening tips for June:

      • Insects and diseases seem to be at a premium this year, and we are already having plenty of mosquito issues. Make sure that you dump out any standing water in your yard. Mosquito dunks can help prevent insect breeding. There are some plants that repel mosquitoes such as lemon grass, lavender, marigolds, catnip, rosemary and basil.

      • Harvest time for many vegetables is in sight. To get the maximum out of your vegetable garden, replant the row as soon as a crop is harvested. Root suckers from tomato plants to give you a late crop.

      • Check the bark of your crape myrtles. We are seeing lots of crape myrtle bark scale, easily identified as white or gray felt-like soot on the branches. Systemic insecticides will work well. Visit for a fact sheet that can give you more descriptions and options of controls,

      • If you have bare spots in your garden and need more summer color, annuals and perennials are still available at garden centers. Another option is tropical plants that thrive in our heat and humidity.

      • Removal (or deadheading) of spent flowers promotes continuous blooming throughout the summer.

      • Lawns are green and growing well. To help your lawn survive a drought, do not fertilize from mid-June to mid-August. Mow the grass high. Cut Bermuda at 2 1/2 inches tall. If possible, aerate the soil to encourage deeper root growth and faster penetration of water when it rains.

      • If you haven’t already pruned your spring blooming shrubs, it needs to be a priority. Otherwise, you won’t have flowers next spring.

      • Cut back plants such as fuchsia and geranium to encourage branching.

      • Later this month, separate crowded clumps of irises. Iris can be dried in clumps and planted in the fall or can be planted immediately. Share extras with friends.

      • When planting root-bound transplants, tear the root system apart before planting. If nothing is done, the roots often continue growing in a circular pattern, and plants never grow off well.

      • Hanging baskets exposed to sun should be checked daily and watered if needed. And they should be sheltered from high winds.

      • June is a great time to clean out the greenhouse. Discard dead or diseased plants and old potting soil. Good sanitation is necessary to control greenhouse pests.

      Enjoy your time in the garden and remember to use sunscreen and protective clothing.

      Lance Kirkpatrick is the Sebastian County Cooperative Extension agent. Have questions about lawn, garden or other horticulture related issues? The Sebastian County Extension Service can help with offices in Barling and Greenwood. Call (479) 484-7737 for answers to horticulture questions.

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      6 Great Tips For Starting A Crevice Garden – 5280 – 5280 Magazine

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      Top tips: Bloom 2017 judges reveal how to create your dream …

      “Some ideas here at Bloom are big but they can be transferred into smaller areas. Even though you might have a large meadow planting section here, you could take a small section of that and use it as a border or frame. People shouldn’t be afraid to slice down designs rather than think that’s too big for the space I’ve got. That eye for detail is what people should be looking for.”

      Judge Paul Maher, curator at the Botanic Gardens, said that colour is a big part of any garden.

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      Lawn and garden tips for spring

      Perhaps the most difficult work in the garden comes after the crops have been planted.  

      Keeping the fruits and vegetables of number one marketable quality like one finds in most grocery stores can be rather frustrating. To novice gardeners, as well as those of you who have several growing seasons of experience, challenges always exist in nature. Constantly being on the lookout for problem areas in food production can be overwhelming. Insects, fungi, bacterial disease, soil diseases, weeds, inclement weather, and tillage equipment all take aim at our better dispositions.  

      Just one bite out of a nice ripe, juicy, red tomato from an insect will cost a commercial grower at least $1 of income. Consumers are so used to buying number one quality products in their favorite markets that any blemish seems to warrant hand sorting of the entire lot.  Although vegetables do not have to be beautiful to taste good, gardeners generally want to take pride in the appearance of their crop. 

      For brave new gardeners who may be willing to try something new when spring arrives, they should try mulching in the garden around transplants. Mulching with clean wheat straw can do amazing things for newly planted or transplanted peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, beans, sweet corn, and melons. A thin layer of straw can offer protection for crops like tomatoes. Many of us have experienced soil splashing up on the lower leaves of transplanted vegetable plants and carrying many soil borne fungi and bacteria which would like to live and reproduce on the surface of the lower leaves of garden plants.

      By eliminating the splash from raindrops, a gardener can increase the possibilities of harvesting nearly perfect fruits and vegetables. Small scale backyard garden planters could also use grass clippings and newspapers to achieve similar results. Clean straw easily decomposes and becomes a part of the landscape more easily than anything I know of. Wheat straw (free of seeds) can also act as a weed barrier which allows moisture to travel downward into the soil profile to keep the crops growing.  

      Take a tip from a farmer: a thin layer of wheat straw around the plants will help reduce direct contact fruits like tomatoes have with the soil, causing them to rot or be bored into by various insects living at the soil surface. Wheat straw, grass clippings, and newspapers spread around plants will help retain soil moisture, which should aid in making larger fruits, and the fruit will ripen more quickly too.

      Taking measures to keep your garden plants growing productively and disease free will take some extra labor but will yield rewards in the quality of your produce. If the gardener has fewer pest problems, chemical eradication is less necessary which saves money for the gardener and is safer for the environment. Having had abundant rain and with warmer temperatures approaching, the plants should be on track for a bumper crop.  

      Mark Brohard is a Licking County Master Gardener Intern.

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      Down the garden path: A new show tracks America’s love affair with plants

      Is it possible to pour the entire well of American garden history into 10 glass cases? Probably not, but the Smithsonian has made a valiant effort with a new exhibition at the American History Museum.

      The show inhabits a small gallery on the museum’s ground floor; if you see a silver, three-eyed Tucker automobile, you’ve gone too far. Make a U-turn and pop into “Cultivating America’s Gardens.” Grouped more by theme than chronology, the show is modest in size but not in scope. It gives a sense of how all the threads of gardening — and these include botany, horticulture, landscape design, agriculture and commerce — are woven into the fabric of the nation’s history.

      It would be nice to think that the meeting point is a single garden of Eden, but as the exhibit shows, divergent groups in America have tended to touch the soil in their own discrete way. This is the show’s poignancy.

      At one end of the gallery, the viewer finds images of grade-schoolers from Anacostia tending kale and tomatoes at their school garden. The faces convey discovery, pride and joy. At the other end, we have the spectacle of a doyenne from Newport, R.I., who, in 1913, dedicated her grandiose, blue-themed Italianate garden dressed as “Lady Sapphire” in a Renaissance-style gown embroidered with sapphires. She is clutching a staff wrapped in an azure ribbon, which somehow cements the fatuity of it.

      Victory gardens were an important source of food during the world wars. Seed merchants such as Burgess Seed and Plant joined the effort. This catalogue is from 1943. (Smithsonian Libraries)

      A year after this, World War I began and gave birth to that more down-to-earth horticultural incarnation, the victory garden, which returned to even fuller effect in the next world war.

      You might argue that today’s thriving community garden scene is an echo of the warrior gardener. In the wars, the victory garden was intended to prevent food shortages and free farm boys for fighting. Today, you can view the community plot as being both for something (dietary empowerment) and against something, if you view Big Ag as the enemy.

      And this is the resonance of the exhibition, that everything we hold dear and trendy in contemporary gardening has been seen before, if in a different form.

      School gardens today are fashionable and prolific and were given a high profile by Michelle Obama in the White House Kitchen Garden. They’re seen as an outdoor classroom and an antidote to children’s poor diet and distance from the natural world. It was ever thus. The projected, black-and-white stills from the Anacostia garden date to 1982, and the origins of school gardens go back a century earlier, to the reform ideals of the Progressive Era.

      Those who think the urban agriculture movement is a 21st-century phenomenon should pore over the blown-up image, from 1909, of the DeWitt Clinton Park in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen district. Here, plots were set aside for immigrants and their children to cultivate. It was the creation of the reformer Frances Griscom Parsons.

      One case gives a spotlight to world’s fairs, which played a large part in setting styles in garden design. From the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, we find a visitor’s pass that contained a mug shot of the holder. Photo IDs in 1876 — who knew?

      Proud participants in a school garden show hosted by the Summit Garden Club in New Jersey in the early 20th century. (Archives of American Gardens/ Garden Club of America Collection)

      The current interest in blending ecology with horticulture — seen in native plant gardens, pollinator gardens and green landscape architecture — has many progenitors, from the 19th century’s William Robinson and his influential writings on natural gardening to the native prairie visionary Jens Jensen (1860-1951) to Rachel Carson’s seminal “Silent Spring.”

      Everyone knows of Carson’s prescient warnings about the damage of pesticides. Fewer know of Jensen, a Danish immigrant who wrote in the 1920s: “For the first time in the course of human history mankind actually possesses power and the might to alter and throw out of harmony the natural order of the earth. . . . The future will curse us.”

      The exhibition was prepared by three curators, Kelly Crawford and Joyce Connolly of Smithsonian Gardens and Lilla Vekerdy, head of special collections at Smithsonian Libraries, and runs until August 2018.

      “Millions of people come to the museum, so I’m hoping that gardeners will take away things they didn’t know, but also that folks who aren’t gardeners understand we have a long tradition of gardening,” Crawford said.

      Gardening may be expressed differently by various communities through the years, but there is a commonality to growing plants for food and pleasure that speaks to the American story, she said. “It’s something that unites people. Anybody can do it,” she said.

      International visitors see the United States as the land of the lawn, an abiding feature intertwined with the 19th-century inventions of the lawn mower and suburbia.

      The lawn is not a singularly American garden element, but the way it has been adopted here is. Europeans in densely populated lands like to enjoy the greensward behind high hedges; here, the lawn was open and formed one seamless hearty handshake to your neighbors. That was the American way, open and friendly.

      The lawn today provokes greater ambivalence. Environmentalists point to the polluting effects of its fertilizers and pesticides; plant devotees see it as a waste of good planting space. Crawford is amused that one of the contraptions invented to mow the lawn was a tricycle whose pedals drove the blades. That hasn’t come back. Yet.

      She is intrigued that the physician Nathaniel Ward, who invented the Wardian case — essentially a terrarium for transporting and keeping plants — was driven by the idea that the act of cultivating plants was in itself healing. “Horticultural therapy isn’t new at all,” she said. “The pendulum always swings.”

      @adrian_higgins on Twitter

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      A Gardening Book for Those Who Hate Gardening Books

      Dear famous gardening writers: please shut up.

      Of course you mean well. We, your tentative, inexperienced readers, shy of hosepipe and clumsy of secateur, appreciate your attempts to make our lives more beautiful. We share your fantasies of roses, zinnia, clematis; of bowers laden with grapes and pomegranates, or cool spaces for entertaining, with creative seating solutions and solar lighting. But some of us live in cities. We are merely gardeners-in-waiting, with only a tiny growing space, or nothing at all; other people’s gardens, not to mention gardening books, intimidate us. We barely have room for a strawberry plant, let alone sweeping grassy vistas. And while we may nurse secret dreams of self-sufficiency, orchards, pigs, blackcurrant gluts, and “Little House on the Prairie”style pickles, some of us buy our apples. I know. It’s a shock.

      When we are messing about in the soil, each of us experiences the same disappointments and pleasures, the same balm to the soul. So why isn’t garden writing universal? Reading is life to me, so shouldn’t I spend every non-gardening moment delighting in the classic garden writers?

      In fact, I never read them. It’s not them; it’s me. Try Gertrude Jekyll, the queen of geometric Edwardian garden design, or Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf’s aristocratic seducer (described by the playwright Noël Coward as “Lady Chatterley above the waist and the gamekeeper below”): the moment they refer to blocks of pink roses, to the Lower Barn or lily ponds or, curse them, manure heaps, my empathy dies. It isn’t only the posh Englishness, the ancestral fountains, the “help.” It’s that I want to see, in actual print, somebody confess that, when, at last, she finds a square centimetre of soil, it is invariably on top of a nameless allium planted last November, much too shallowly, with insufficient grit, rather close to a horrible mauve geranium bought out of pity.

      Christopher Lloyd, the great modern British garden writer, published a book in 1972 called “Shrubs and Trees for Small Gardens,” for plots “of no more than an acre”; I own approximately 0.0015 of an acre. I do try not to be bitter. But how can I engage without a bench, pond, greenhouse, log pile, sundial, decking, terracing, pleaching, topiary, water butt, gate, nuttery, parterre, arbor, beehive, stream, rockery, gravel, or hammock? I own no potting shed or wheelbarrow or, sadly, any chickens; I have nothing to topiarize. Besides, my heart is in Asian vegetables, edible perennials, fiddlehead ferns, and callaloo, not flowering shrubs or stringy English beans. The old guard leaves me cold: irritated, not inspired.

      Fortunately, there are a few glorious alternatives: books by writers who happen to garden. If you are a reader who gardens, or wants to, then they wrote for you. Katharine S. White, the New Yorker fiction editor whose gardening columns are collected in “Onward and Upward in the Garden,” recently reissued by NYRB Classics, understood the deep pleasure provided by nursery catalogues and seed lists. When you’ve run out of those to read in the bath, her intelligent observations are marvellously soothing. For sheer opinionated pleasure, you cannot beat “Green Thoughts,” by the American Eleanor Perényi, whose two gardens were on a Hungarian ancestral estate and, after her divorce, in Connecticut. Perényi’s honesty, intolerance, and appreciation of all that makes gardening a joy—night, vegetables, dung, experimentation—make me forgive her everything. Even acres.

      Most urgent of all, run out, right now, and find “The Gardener’s Year,” by the Czech playwright and polymath Karel Čapek, who invented the word “robot” and, after becoming the Gestapo’s Public Enemy No. 2, died, in 1938, of double pneumonia and a broken heart. Čapek’s own gardening had taught him a secret: peonies may bloom, the sun may shine, but those of us who garden barely notice. While others are sniffing the roses, we have our bottoms in the air and noses to the ground, occupied with the part of our gardens that we truly love: dirt. As he put it, if a gardener entered the Garden of Eden, “he would sniff excitedly and say: ‘Good Lord, what humus!’ “

      “The Gardener’s Year” is warm, charming, adorably illustrated by the author’s own brother, and, almost unique to its genre, funny. Čapek is particularly brilliant on the travails of town gardeners: the lack of space; the impossibility of laying one’s hands on the ingredients for really good compost, the ash, dung, lime, charcoal, silt, guano, and moss without which our soil, allegedly, will be thin and poor. Ordinary garden soil, on the other hand,

      Generally consists of particular ingredients which are: clay, manure, rotten leaves, peat, stones, shards from pint bottles, broken bowls, nails, wires, bones, Hussite arrows, foil from chocolate wrappers, bricks, old coins, old smoking pipes, sheet glass, mirrors, old labels, tin pots, bits of string, buttons, shoe soles, dog dirt, coal, pot handles, wash-hand basins, dishcloths, bottles, railway sleepers, milk cans, buckles, horseshoes, tin cans, insulating material, bits of newspaper and countless other constituents which the astonished gardener wrests from his flowerbeds every time that he hoes. Perhaps one day he will unearth an American stove under his tulips, Attila’s grave or the Sibylline Books; in a cultivated soil everything can be found.

      Forget the lily ponds; Čapek is the Thurber of compost. Wit and cow dung: What more could you possibly want?

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      Wilby garden designer helps team win gold at Chelsea Flower Show

      A garden designer from Wilby was part of the winning team which scooped a gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show.

      Caitlin McLaughlin was chosen to work alongside lead designer Sarah Eberle on the project by garden centre giants Hillier.



      Their entry entitled ‘Spring’ was awarded a gold medal, making it the 72nd consecutive Chelsea Flower Show where Hillier has won gold.

      As well as adding to Hillier’s haul of medals, the award is another success for Caitlin who is already an award-winning garden designer, having been awarded a gold medal for her Nature and Nuture show at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.

      She has always had an interest in horticulture and garden design, which led her to a degree and Masters in conservation, and then to the Natural History Museum and Kew Gardens to work in plant sciences and conservation, which led her to form her own garden design practice.

      George Hillier said: “Chelsea is the lifeblood running through Hillier.

      “It plays such a vital role in the business so we are absolutely delighted to have won gold for the 72nd time in a row.

      “It is absolutely a team effort and I want to extend a huge thanks to every single person involved, from our designers Sarah and Caitlin to everyone that works so hard throughout the whole year to make it all possible.

      “Our mission is to inspire the creation of green living spaces for now and the future and, by adding to our legacy, this year’s garden has certainly helped us achieve that.”

      Hillier has exhibited plants at Chelsea in some form for more than 100 years and the show is the platform from which the company launches many of its new plant varieties, including two in 2017 that are exclusive to Hillier.

      Another attraction on the stand this year was the memory tree.

      Visitors were invited to write down a treasured gardening memory and hang a plant tag on the Davidia involucrata tree, commonly known as the ‘Pocket Handkerchief Tree.’

      The first tag hung on the tree was by Alan Titchmarsh and the aim was to have thousands of hanging tags by the end of show week.

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      Former River Tasalmi golf course will become park

      The Redding Rancheria won’t sell the former River Tasalmi golf course and instead will repurpose the property as a park.

      After closing it in April for economic reasons, the tribe received two purchase offers for the nine-hole course, but neither one made financial sense, said Gary Hayward, president of the Redding Rancheria Economic Development Corp.


      “They just weren’t even close to being feasible, in my opinion,” Hayward said Wednesday afternoon. “I think the offers were based on seeing if we were willing to just get rid of it . . . and the tribe wasn’t willing to just get rid of the property because it has other value to us.”

      More: Two offers to buy River Tasalmi Golf Club

      Vijay Soni, who owns the Redding Inn, and WaterWorks Park owner Joe Murphy each offered to buy the golf course.

      The Rancheria has not yet decided whether the park will be private or public, which has some residents of the surrounding River Bend Estates neighborhood nervous. Many homeowners there wanted it to remain a golf course.

      “I am completely against a public park because of safety issues,” said Gail Enmark, a River Bend neighborhood watch captain who has there for seven years.

      More: Neighbors anxious River Tasalmi closing

      Enmark would rather see a fenced private park with locks and no-trespassing signs to keep people out after hours.

      “I prefer it was a golf course, obviously,” said Mike Robinson, who’s also a River Bend neighborhood watch captain. “But if it becomes a park they are going to have to go through a use permit to do that, which means they would have to notify everybody. So they will get a real negative (feedback) from all the neighbors here. We don’t want a park here.”

      More: Rancheria to close River Tasalmi Golf Course

      Both Enmark and Robinson said the Rancheria has done a good job of keeping the property maintained and secured since the golf course closed March 31.

      “To defend the tribe, they have done what they said they are going to do and we haven’t had any significant problems because of that,” Enmark said.

      Hayward said he walks the former golf course property nearly every day.

      “At this point we are focusing on making it as nice as we said we would maintain it,” he said.

      River Tasalmi was established in 1991 as River Bend Golf and Country Club. The Rancheria changed the name to River Tasalmi after it purchased the course in 2010 for $1.1 million. The property is north of South Bonnyview Road off Indianwood Drive.

      Meanwhile, rumors have been circulating that the city would take title of the former golf course in exchange for annexing the Rancheria’s Win-River Casino property off Highway 273, making it more marketable for future housing or other type of development.

      The Rancheria late last year submitted plans to state and federal officials to build a new casino off Interstate 5 south of the Hilton Garden Inn. The tribe has said the new casino would replace its existing gaming center.

      Kim Niemer, Redding’s community services director, said she has not discussed a land deal with tribal officials.

      The rumor might have started after some neighbors saw Niemer meeting with Rancheria officials last week at the former golf course, Niemer said. The meeting was held to discuss irrigation upgrades and other money-saving landscaping tips.

      “We have given them some thought to making modifications in landscaping that would be more parklike as opposed to a golf course design,” Niemer said, adding the Rancheria contacted the city for ideas.


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