Book Review: Yard and Garden Makeovers

by Karen on October 31, 2014

Yard and Garden MakeoversThe phrase “form follows function” coined by American architect Louis Sullivan takes on new meaning in this book Yard and Garden Makeovers by George Kay and Brian Kay. Although the phrase is usually associated with modernist architecture and industrial design in the 20th century, the authors contend that it is an effective principle to use when designing a garden or landscaping a yard because it leads to thoughtful, intentional choices rather than stereotypical or trendy ones. Whether your yard is bare from new construction or filled with aging trees and shrubs, this book can help you make the right choices to create a landscape the meets you needs and fulfills your dreams. [click to read full post]

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Hyppericum adpressumThe St. John’s Wort family is small and consists of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous annuals and perennials that live in temperate and warm climates. The most famous member of the family, St. John’s Wort, has been used to treat a variety of ills from bed wetting to depression and is used as an alternative to Prozak. Native Americans used the dried leaves as meal, and fresh leaves can be eaten as salad. The family consists of ten genera and over 300 species, mostly Hypericum. This family is considered by some as a subfamily of Clusiaceae also known as Guttiferae. [click to read full post]

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Indian pipe Monotropa uniflora 2Also known as corpse plant and ghost plant, Indian pipe is a herbaceous perennial native to various areas in Asia, South America, and North America, but rarely seen. Unlike most plants it is white, or white with black flecks or with a flush of pink. Instead of making its own food like most other plants do, it depends on a complex relationship between a special kind of fungus that is mycorrhizal with a tree, often beech. The tree provides sugar from photosythesis to the mycorrhizal fungus that in turn, helps the tree absorb water and minerals. Indian pipe parasitizes the mycorrhizal fungus and gets some of the sugar from the tree while contributing nothing to the relationship. [click to read full post]

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Downy WoodpeckerMost woodpeckers feel at home in trees where they build cavity nests and find food. Their favorite food is insects but they also like fruits and nuts. With a shade tree or two and plants that attract insects and/or produce fruits and nuts you can attract the woodpeckers that are native to your area. They need a secure perch in order to eat so will only be come to plants with hefty stems. Once they find your woodpecker haven they will stay for a long time. Most do not migrate so they will come in winter too, especially if you provide them with suet, nuts (and nut spreads like peanut butter), sunflower seeds, corn, and insect foods such as mealworms. [click to read full post]

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Plant Profile: Rosa ‘Pumpkin Patch’

by Karen on October 27, 2014

Rose Pumpkin PatchSmall  clusters of plump coppery buds open to large very double flowers on upright compact medium sized bushes. The foliage is glossy and medium green. Plants are considered heat tolerant and disease resistant and are suitable for beds, borders, and containers. Flowers are good for the vase and make an excellent addition to fall arrangements. [click to read full post]

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Book Review: Bats

by Karen on October 24, 2014

Bats Gail GibbonsBats are scary to most people yet few have actually seen one. In her book, Bats, Gail Gibbons presents bats in a positive way and creates an appealing image for them. Written for children ages eight and up, this non-fiction book introduces young readers to many different kinds of bats in a way that fosters an appreciation of their unique characteristics and value in nature. [click to read full post]

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Beneficial Spiders: Wolf Spiders

by Karen on October 23, 2014

_Spider Wolf_Carrying_Egg_Sac_(Masked)If you have seen a large, hairy spider with long legs  in your garden it might be a wolf spider.  Actually wolf spider refers to a family of spiders and includes over 3,000 species world wide and 200 species in North America.  The name comes from the fact that these spiders chase their prey and pounce on them (like a wolf).  Wolf spiders can be distinguished from other spiders by the arrangement of their eight eyes in three rows; the lowest row has four small eyes, the middle row two large eyes, and the top row two small lateral eyes. [click to read full post]

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Plant Profile: Royal fern (Osmunda regalis)

by Karen on October 22, 2014

1aRoyal fern is a deciduous perennial found on all continents except Australia. The family, Osmundaceae date back 230,000,000 years to the Permian days before man and other mammals but when reptiles, including dinosaurs, first inhabited the earth. Today, royal ferns grow in clumbs in wet areas such as bogs, swamps, and stream edges. Their common name probably derives from the fact that they are the largest of the European ferns with fronds that can measure up to six feet long. The green fronds are bipinnate and resemble the leaves of members of the pea-family such as locust. Fertile fronds have brown spore-bearing leaflets (pinnae) at their tips, giving rise to another common name, flowering fern. The plants have large rhizomes bearing masses of fibrous roots that is used as a potting medium for orchids. Royal ferns give a tropical look to any site, naturalize well, and are an excellent choice for water gardens and the wettest part of a rain garden. [click to read full post]

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Holly miniature Malpighia_coccigera 2A native of the West Indies, this is an evergreen shrub that is also called Singapore holly. It has small shiny-green leaves that have spiny-toothed edges and resemble those of holly, giving the plant it’s common names, but in fact, it is not a holly or even related. Throughout the year light pink, dime-sized flowers are produced sporadically and may be followed by pea sized red berries. The wiry branches are open and have gray-white bark. This is not an easy plant for bonsai because of its demanding requirements and its tendency to drop its leaves when the requirements are not met. All the classic styles are possible but the broom style is challenging and requires careful selective pruning. [click to read full post]

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Plant Profile: Osage Orange Maclura pomifera)

by Karen on October 20, 2014

osage orange fr n lvsThis deciduous small to medium sized tree is a native in parts of Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma but has spread widely through the Great Plains where was planted in the mid-1930′s as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Great Plains Shelter-belt” WPA project. It’s use as a windbreak gave rise to a second common name, “hedge apple”. Mature trees are arching and spreading, and branches have half inch long spines and exude a milky sap when cut. The shiny dark green leaves are long ovals ending with a pointed tip and may turn bright yellow in fall before falling later in the season than most other trees. Inconspicuous green male and female flowers are produced on different trees in early summer and female flowers give rise to conspicuous pale green fruits that are four to five inches in diameter. Each fruit has a rough chartreuse green exterior and actually consist of numerous small fruits that grow together. Female flowers may produce fruit even when not fertilized but the fruit lacks seeds. Fruit litter under female trees can be a problem. The fruits are produced in the fall and are attractive in arrangements. The fleshy roots have orange bark. The wood of osage orange is very strong and Native Americans used it for bows while ranchers and farmers used it for such items as fence posts and tool handles. [click to read full post]

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