Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Definitely Fall

It's definitely crisp outside. Here are some images from the office garden area:

Beautyberry stems

Pawpaw leaves litter the ground

Swiss chard 'Bright Lights' still look great even after multiple frosts

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Daylilies and Roses

At the office, we have a bed devoted to daylilies. They were in need of division, a regular chore every 3 or 4 years. We were later in getting them divided and replanted than I would have liked, but nonetheless, we have rejuvenated our daylily bed. Looks are deceiving -- these will be spectacular next summer, no doubt.

Roses have been fairly disease-free this season. But now we're seeing black spot show up, even in this extremely dry weather pattern. The Knockouts are not affected, but black spot is wreaking havoc on our Sevillana (this may be spelled wrong) roses.

We certainly meant to plant all knockouts, but half our order was this Sevillana type rather the the Knockouts. It's a good educational tool for people to see the resistance that these Knockouts have. So maybe not all bad.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Corn Tops Ripe and the Meadow's in the Bloom

Corn Tops Ripe is a sure sign that school is right around the corner. We're still in the midst of summer, but it seems like summer has almost ended.

At the office, the crape myrtle 'Muskogee' has been blooming for about 10 days. It looks good even with the pruning I had to do following the April freeze.

Queen of the Meadow is blooming as well. It seems to be a bit early but I can't document that.

Tithonia (Mexican sunflower) is one of my favorite flowers. A bit unkempt, the flowers will knock your socks off.

Friday, June 22, 2007

How Our Gardens are Growing!

It's been a month since my last post. The demonstration vegetable garden looks absolutely wonderful. With the drought we're in, it has required watering....lots and lots of water.

No pesticides have been sprayed and I think I've only pulled about 4 weeds so far. I like this type of gardening....

Here's a picture of the cilantro. Smells wonderful.

And here's a picture of the Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'. Everybody should have this in their garden, even if you never eat any of it!

I hope those of you that live in Pulaski Co will stop by and take a look sometime!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Plants on display at the office

After 2 container gardening classes, we have some beautiful pots filled with nice, blooming plants. We have some containers that go in the sun and some that go in the shade. Here's one of my favorite plants -- caladium. It's in a dirty pot, but don't mind that....

Our Calycanthus is blooming again, after the blooms were frozen off April 6-8. But they're back albeit with a few dead branches on the plant.

Also, come visit our office and you can browse our All-America Vegetable Demonstration Garden. Cilantro, Swiss chard, tomatoes, okra, peppers, and onions have been planted into raised beds. They are watered and fertilized through soaker hoses. The fence is around to prevent rabbits from eating the young plants. It may also serve to make it a bit more cumbersome for 2-legged creatures to steal from our garden. Come browse around when you're in the area.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Can't Remember the Freeze

By looking at some of the plants here at the office, you might never know there was a horrible freeze a month and a half ago.

Our 'Muskogee' crapemyrtle came through wonderfully well. Especially when you see and hear that many crape myrtles are dead to the ground.

The false blue indigo (Baptisia australis) and some sort of Rue (Thalictrum spp.) are blooming fine.

Here's some pics:

Crapemyrtle- Before pruning

Crapemyrtle -- After Pruning (except for one branch I couldn't reach)

False Blue Indigo

Rue spp.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Two Weeks Later....

After the freeze 2 weeks ago, plants still don't look great. But recovery is on the way. I'm posting some, hopefully, uplifting pictures today. But remember, you may see dieback still occurring on woody plants for a couple more months.

Green tissue under bark of butterflybush:

False blue indigo new growth

Carolina sweetshrub new leaves emerging where old ones were fried

Baldcypress putting out some new leaves

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Frozen landscape plants

Tree and shrubs whose leaves and flowers have been burnt by the freeze will recover. According to Dr Bill Fountain, our UK Extension Specialist, woody plants will leaf out again. It may take a couple of months to really understand the extent of the damage to our plants but they will most likely not die.

Do NOT fertilize trees and shrubs now. Keep woody plants as un-stressed out as possible during this growing season. This means watering when we have a dry spell. After a couple months, freeze damaged trees and shrubs can be aesthetically pruned -- meaning, get rid of the ugly, dead stuff. I want to emphasize that we should still practice good pruning practices.

The bark of the crape myrtle (and our beautyberry) here at the office cracked and sloughed off with the cold temperatures. Crape myrtles are marginal here in Zone 6, so there may be a lot of dead limbs on your plant this year. Again, you'll have to wait to see what resprouts and at that point, make pruning cuts.

For Dr Fountain's entire opinion on this, click here.

Herbaceous perennials were hard hit as well. Check out our hostas here at the office.

For these plants, you will have to wait a good week to know exactly what is dead and what's alive. At that point, you might want to remove the dead leaves. Anything that remains green, I would keep since it will be photosynthesizing and making energy for the plant.

Good luck. Let me know how your plants recover from this historic freeze.

Fresh, local fruit will be hard to come by in 2007

We had spring for 5 weeks before the freeze hit. Then the freeze hit, recording temps of 18 degrees in some places. This deep, prolonged cold period really did a number on our tree fruit crops. The peach and apple crops will be very small in Kentucky for 2007. Some growers will resort to buying fruit to re-sell, but this freeze affected much of the eastern half of the US. So who knows who will have apples and peaches.

Local strawberries got hit fairly hard as well. Early bloomers, like the tasty Earliglow, lost their king blooms. King blooms are the most important bloom since they produce the biggest berries. Strawberries will continue to bloom, but yields will be much reduced and berries will be smaller.

Early blueberries probably are gone as well. We're unsure of exactly what will happen with the later crop, but no doubt, damage has occurred.

Please patronize our local growers this year. They will very much appreciate your support during a most difficult year.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What's Blooming Today

Mostly pictures today. Several things worthy of showing.

Weeping Redbud & Daphne 'Somerset'

Calycanthus in bloom


Pawpaw blooms

Friday, March 09, 2007

Sourwoods for Everyone!

Well, maybe not everyone. I have a thing for sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) trees. I have been taking care of more than 20 seedlings since December 06. These seeds came off the tree in my yard at home. The seedlings have been growing in a south facing window in the house. This plant has been growing since mid-January 07.

As you can see, the plant is very small, maybe a half-inch tall. But we finally have 2 true leaves on it with a third on its way. The hairs on the leaves are very big for the size of the leaf. I had no idea it would be this hairy.

My intent is to prick the seedlings out and transplant them to a larger container by the end of March. I'll post more later as they grow.

For more information on sourwood trees, visit UConn's website.

Office questions

It's defintely March -- more questions are rolling into the Extension office. Here's the rundown with a few of my suggestions:

1. Deer resistant plants -- The best thing to understand about deer is that if they are hungry, they will eat anything. There are some good websites which list 'preferred' plants and 'rarely damaged' plants. I would advise looking at sites from WVU or Rutgers. Consider using some repellents, whether they be purchased products or hanging soap or hair around the garden.

2. Weed control for lawns -- Crabgrass can be a non-issue this summer if you apply a pre-emergence herbicide. The best time for this is mid-March. Get this without fertilizer attached to it! Broadleaf weed control should be done in the spring and the fall. Bermudagrass is a whole 'nother issue....

3. Roots of silver maples -- Genetically, this tree likes its roots above the ground. Nothing you can do will change this feature of silver maples. Covering up the roots with mulch might help the looks somewhat, but you need to be careful not to layer anything too deep. This could smother the roots and lead to tree decline.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Joy of Pruning

Pruning apples, that is. Many people are totally confused about how to prune an apple tree. And to be honest, I wasn't real good at it. I'm not claiming I'm good at it now. I'm a little better.

Now is the time to prune apple trees -- really anytime before the buds start swelling. I pruned about 8 that I have at home yesterday on February 27. The prunings are where you get scion wood, which I need for a grafting workshop on April 3.

Anyway, here's a before and after shot of my Liberty apple tree. The tree is about 7 years old now. By the way, the sky was that blue yesterday -- wonderful!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Urban Trees Need Soil (Dirt)!

At the Central KY Ornamental and Turf Association meeting yesterday, we had the great pleasure to hear someone relate the dilemma of street trees. Guess what? These trees need soil (or soil-like stuff) to grow and live and thrive. And the more there is, the better they do. Doesn't this make complete sense?

I'm not at all criticizing this guy -- I absolutely loved his talk. And I think if we really want to have a thriving downtown in Somerset, part of the budget MUST be spent on trees and giving them what they need to do well.

There's nothing sadder-looking than unthrifty street trees. Somerset has many examples. Anyone reading this, I challenge you to get good information on the benefits of street trees to downtown businesses (or anywhere else for that matter) and get talking with your local governments.

There are meetings on how to organize a street tree board and how to get the whole conversation going. Click here to find more info about one coming up in March.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Should We Buy Out of Season?

There is an editorial in the NY Times today about people in the US wanting their tomatoes -- and wanting them even when it's winter.

Have any of you thought about this debate? It's an interesting one. And there are hypocrites everywhere. I'm probably one of them.

I do not buy tomatoes from the grocery in the winter. But I do buy other produce -- I bought strawberries the other day for my girls. But you have to put so much sugar on them, I don't know how beneficial they really are after having to sugar them up.

Peddling through the produce shelves at the grocery, I find myself thinking about this -- silly, huh? But I do. I buy potatoes, lettuce or other greens, some carrots, some bananas, and in December I usually get some oranges. But that's about all the variety we get at home in the winter. And we're not starving.

You all already know this, but you get better taste from a fresher, ripe fruit or vegetable than one that is harvested premature -- so it can withstand the long haul from FL or CA to KY.

Any comments out there?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Poison ivy

At home, we have a fairly small patch of woods that I simply adore. There is a small creek that runs through it -- my girls & I absolutely love our woodsy walks.

Several years before I married my husband, he allowed his brother to run his horses on our land. Part of the land they had access to was the woods.

I love horses but they created a mess down in our woods that I am trying to clean up to this day! They brought in every weed or otherwise invasive plant you can imagine. In the spring and summer there's poison ivy and smartweed that seems to overwhelm you. In the winter, it's the japanese honeysuckle and the wintercreeper euonymus.

In the winter, you have full access to just the honeysuckle and wintercreeper since they are about the only things green. Sunday afternoon, I yanked and pulled and yanked some more til I had 4 garbage bags full of mostly honeysuckle. I barely got 200 sq ft cleared. It humbles you really. My husband asked me how many bags I got, I told him 4. He asked how many there were to go, I said 4000. (It's not really quite that bad).

If anyone says you can't get poison ivy in the winter, tell them they are wrong. I must have pulled up some poison ivy and the only spot on me where skin was showing is now red & puckered with a few blisters (on my wrist).

Thursday, January 11, 2007


In January, many Extension agents are on the road. Going to meeting after meeting. That's all well and good because we need to get educated, updated, and kind of energized for the coming year.

I attend the Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Association annual winter meeting, the Mid-States Horticultural Expo, the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference, and two or three non-commodity things.

I always say that if you get one thing from a 2 or 3 day meeting, it's worth it. And I have. I hope I can serve the people of Pulaski Co even better with my recently learned stuff.

Here's an example or 3:
1. I learned that 'they' have actually bred Echinacea to death.
-- Don't get me wrong, some of the introductions are pretty neat, but enough already!
2. I learned that farmers/nurserymen who employ H2A workers must pay them more than what US workers would get under the potential NEW minimum wage.
-- (I actually already knew that but isn't that interesting?)
3. I learned that Kentucky's fruit and vegetable production has been increasing 8-10% per year -- it's now a $50 million industry.
-- We need to keep it growing. You can help by buying locally produced fruits, vegetables, nursery stock, greenhouse bedding plants, etc.

That's enough for today. I included a picture of our lilac buds that started to open this week.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ah, springtime in Somerset

I'm back in the office today and went out to look at our plantings here at the office.

Here's a sampling of what's happening out there:
  • some lilac buds are beginning to open just slightly
  • peony shoots are emerging
  • daffodils shoots are up anywhere from 2-6" tall
  • seedlings of Baptisia and Monarda are germinating
  • Knockout roses 1) never lost all their old leaves and 2) new leaves are emerging
  • butterflybushes have new green leaves
This is January 5, folks. Spring, by the calendar, is still 2+ months away (March 20). I don't know -- it's a little too freaky for me.