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August 2010
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Carolee Snyder to speak at Herb Society meeting

September 7, 2010
7:00 PM
Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). (C) WikipediaCommon

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). (C) WikipediaCommon

Herb Society of Indiana, Holy Greek Orthodox Church, 3500 W. 106th St. Carmel. Carolee Snyder of Carolee’s Herb farm will celebrate the life of St. Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century German composer, author, herbalist and healer.
Free and open to the public. For more info, call (317) 714-3273, or visit the Web site.

Crabgrass Prevention – Hoosier Gardener on Fox59

The name of the tool I’m using in this video is CobraHead.

High heat stresses your bulbs, too

From Scott Kunst, Old House Gardens Friends of Old Bulbs Gazette

<p>Rain lilies, which open pink then fade as they age, like to be crowded in the pot. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp </p>

Rain lilies, which open pink then fade as they age, like to be crowded in the pot. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

High heat has plagued much of the country this summer. Some bulbs like it, but others suffer. Dahlias, for example, have struggled or failed in many gardens where they usually thrive. That’s because they come originally from the mountain plateaus of Mexico where days are hot but nights are dramatically cooler. When nights are too warm, dahlias just can’t grow well. Some varieties are more sensitive than others and can even die. The good news is that if you can keep them going till temperatures cool (which has to happen sometime, right?), they’ll kick back into gear and bloom gloriously till frost.

Glads may develop kinked stems in unusually hot weather as they sag a bit during the day, unable to fully replenish the water evaporating from them, and then grow upright at night when evaporation slows. This is most often a problem with glads like ‘Atom’ that have thin, wiry stems. To help, keep your glads well-watered and protect their shallow, wide-spreading roots from disturbance. Tiny sucking insects called thrips proliferate when it’s hot, too, and can leave glad leaves and blossoms mottled, or even prevent buds from opening. Here are tips on control of thrips.

Heat affects flower color, too. Deep-colored lilies such as African Queen’ may be paler in high heat, bicolor dahlias such as ‘Deuil du Roi Albert’ may bloom temporarily as solids, and the rosy tones of ‘Kaiser Wilhelm’ and others won’t develop fully until the weather cools.

Of course some bulbs love the heat. In many gardens this summer, cannas, tuberoses and rain lilies have been especially happy — and we hope you’ve been enjoying them.

Indiana lawns have a bumper crop of crabgrass

Many lawns have crabgrass this year because of the rain, hot weather and other factors. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Many lawns have crabgrass this year because of the rain, hot weather and other factors. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Crabgrass is sprouting all over the lawn. And, it’s probably worse this year than in years past, even though you applied a pre-emergent herbicide this spring to keep the weed from sprouting.

There are several factors that caused this bumper crop, not the least of which is the weather. It did nothing but rain in central Indiana during crabgrass’ key germination period in late April and early May. After that, the temps turned hot and stayed there, nourishing tiny seedlings into full-grown weeds.

The weather also contributed to several grass fungus diseases, such as pythium blight and red thread. Like most weeds, crabgrass (Digitaria) is opportunistic and will take advantage of thin, weakened spots in the lawn.

Timing of herbicide applications is also a contributor. Many consumers apply lawn fertilizers with pre-emergent herbicides in March, which is too early. Most pre-emergent herbicides are effective in keeping crabgrass seeds from germinating for about eight weeks. Waiting until April and May to apply the pre-emergent extends protection well into summer.

It’s too late to apply a post-emergent herbicide on crabgrass now, because the weeds are so large and the weed killer is much less effective. Hand pull or hoe out crabgrass from garden beds.

Fortunately, crabgrass is an annual weed, which will be killed by cold temperatures. Draw a sketch of the landscape and indicate which areas were infested so you’ll know where to apply the pre-emergent herbicides next spring.

Other tips:

  • Mow grass to 3 ½ high.
  • Apply two-thirds of the annual lawn fertilizer in fall, preferably in September and November.
  • Irrigate the lawn during extremely hot periods with no rain to keep the grass from going dormant. A dormant lawn is an invitation for weeds to move in.

The Hoosier Gardener talks about crabgrass and offers tips for controlling it Aug. 25 on Indianapolis’ Fox59 Morning News.

For more information, download Purdue University’s Control of Crabgrass in Home Lawns.

Indy’s City Gardener program provides answers for new, inexperienced gardeners

The Marion County Extension's City Gardener program covers plants' roots and other details to help you succeed in all of your gardening efforts. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

The Marion County Extension's City Gardener program covers plants' roots and other details to help you succeed in all of your gardening efforts. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

If you are a new or inexperienced gardener or a first-time homebuyer and have questions about what to do when in the landscape, the City Gardener program offered by the Marion County Extension Office, will provide the answers.

Topics in the 12-hour program include: how a plant grows; soil and fertilizers; pests and pest management; tree and shrub selection and care; weed identification and control; lawn care; vegeteable gardening; animal damage management; annuals and perennial flowers.

Participants receive a reference notebook, which contains outlines of the presentation and supporting publications. The two Saturday sessions, Aug. 28 and Sept. 11, 2010, will be at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc.’s headquarters, 1029 Fletcher Ave., near Fountain Square. There’s plenty of free parking.

The fee is $20. A  $10 scholarships may be available to those with financial need, said Steve Mayer, an extension educator who teaches the program.

Here’s the registration form.

Hendricks County Master Gardeners present Adventures in Gardening

September 25, 2010
8:30 AM

Hendricks County Master Gardener, Adventures in Gardening, features Irvin Etienne, Indianapolis Museum of Art as the keynote on growing vegetables in the flower garden.  Other topics:  The Winter Garden with conifer specialist Terri Park; Going Native in Suburbia — how to your subdivision into a beautiful wildflower habitat with Dan McCord; and Water Ponds Made Easy with Steve Wicker.

Fee: $30, includes lunch. Call (371) 75409260, or visit the Web site.

Where: Hendricks County Fairgrounds Auditorium, 1900 E. Main St., (Old U.S. 36) in Danville.

Get more perennials at Hendricks County plant exchange

September 14, 2010
6:30 PM

Hendricks County Master Gardeners, Perennial Plant Exchange,  with planting tips from Colletta Kosiba. Bring four to six identified plants to the Plainfield Library, 1120 Strafford Road. Free, but registration is required, (317)  839-6602.

Prep the Indiana garden for winter

September 13, 2010
7:00 PM

Hendricks County Master Gardeners, Putting Your Garden to Bed for the Winter, by Colletta Kosiba.  Learn about clean up, adding soil nutrients and more fall chores.  Brownsburg Library, 450 S. Jefferson St. Free, but registration is required, (317) 852-3167.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day August 2010

Sunshine Daydream sunflower. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Sunshine Daydream sunflower. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

I’m tired and hot from another 90+ degree-day in the garden center. Oh, wait. I wrote that last month!

No change in the weather, only intensified heat. Three days of excessive heat warnings in a row…the hottest here in 22 years.

Despite the constant incredible heat and humidity, there are bright spots in the garden. First up is the charming Sunshine Daydream sunflower (Helianthus multiflorus) from Plants Nouveau, which has reached 5 feet tall its first summer.

Also tall is the volunteer flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris), which is intensely fragrant. I really like most flowering tobacco because of their fragrance, because they self-sow and because they are a terrific attractant for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

Sunshine Charm tradescantia. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Sunshine Charm tradescantia. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

A sweet surprise is a brand new spiderwort called ‘Sunshine Charm’ (Tradescantia), which I picked up last month as a plug from the Terra Nova Nurseries booth at OFA, the country’s largest horticulture show held annually in Columbus, Ohio. It and about a dozen other plugs of various sorts have been in 4-inch pots since the show, yet this one is blooming and living up to its name.

Garden Writers Association members from Region III (Indiana, Michigan and Ohio) have been invited the last several years to attend this event at no charge. For the second year, I went for the day with Irvin Etienne, a horticulturist and blogger at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, another GWA member and total plant geek.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Ready to Wear Paris, a tri-colored Calibrachoa sent to me from Hort Couture. I’m not particularly crazy about ‘million bells,’ in general, because I don’t think they take the heat very well and they get really scraggly.

Ready to Wear Paris calibrachoa from Hort Couture. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Ready to Wear Paris calibrachoa from Hort Couture. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

But this new introduction for 2011 has done very well with my usual benign neglect as a companion with another favorite annual, jewels of Opar (Talilnum). I can’t really give more information about this calibrachoa because I can’t find anything about this plant on the Hort Couture Web site, so I don’t know if there’s a Ready to Wear Rome…New York…or?

Lady Elsie May rose pairs nicely with a pink Japanese anemone. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Lady Elsie May rose pairs nicely with a pink Japanese anemone. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

The shrub roses (Rosa rugosa) are blooming again after a brief rest, and I continue to be amazed by ‘Lady Elsie May,’ which is just a lovely plant and stunning color. It’s close to Japanese anemone (A. x hybrida), which also has started to bloom. This pink perennial also is a favorite in winter for its cotton-ball seed heads.

Japanese painted fern has gone dormant because of the heat in central Indiana. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Japanese painted fern has gone dormant because of the heat in central Indiana. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Lastly, my poor Japanese painted ferns (Athyrium niponicum) have melted in the heat. I’ve not watered anything except the pots and the stuff in containers. I’ve only watered the vegetable garden once and that was two days ago.

This coming week is expected to be cooler…in the 80s. It’s hard to imagine the 80s as cooler. A little rain would be nice.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day was started by May Dreams Gardens. Garden bloggers from throughout the world write about what’s happening in their gardens on the 15th of the month.

Victory Gardener Jim Wilson dies in Missouri

Jim Wilson was the national spokesman for Plant a Row for the Hungry. (C) Kendra Martin

Jim Wilson was the national spokesman for Plant a Row for the Hungry. (C) Kendra Martin

Jim Wilson, one of my favorite gardeners, educators and communicators died in his sleep at age 85 on Aug. 1 at his home in Columbia, Mo.

One of the early hosts of PBS’ The Victory Garden, Jim was one of the first celebrity gardeners I interviewed for this column in the early 1990s.

A southern gentleman who always wore a wide-brim hat, Jim greeted everyone with “Hello, friend,” and quickly turned the conversation to how our gardens were growing.

He was the author of about two dozen books, including Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs: A Bountiful, Healthful Garden for Lean Times, published earlier this year and reviewed here.

In many ways, his speeches, activities and books reflected his own stages in life. In his 50s and 60s, he was a pioneer on public television, encouraging his baby-boomer audience to dig in the soil and plant a garden. He was the national spokesman for Plant a Row for the Hungry, a program of the Garden Writers Association. A longtime member of GWA, Jim was named a Fellow in 1988 and elected to the Garden Writers Hall of Fame in 1995.

In an interview upon publication of Gardening Through Your Golden Years in 2003, Jim said “as we age, we are reluctant to admit we are getting older and slowing down. I’ve slowed down myself, a little. I started analyzing what was happening to me physically and what happened to gardening and how your perspective changes year to year.”

His longtime companion, Janie Mandel said that just about every day, he worked in the vegetable garden she designed for his 80th birthday, planting, weeding, harvesting and frequently cooking the food he grew.

“There’s a common thread of optimism among gardeners,” Jim said in our 2003 interview. “There’s always the hope that next year’s garden will be better than last year’s garden.”

Thank you, Jim. Rest in peace.