|December 1, 2012|
|12:00 PM||to||2:00 PM|
I’m so pleased to be a part of the Indiana Author Fair, noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the Indiana History Center. For the first time, I will be among 80 authors there to talk about their works, visit with shoppers and sign books.
The Visitor’s Guide to American Gardens and the Indiana Gardener’s Guide will be the books I’m featuring.
Entry to the Author Fair is free when you buy an admission to the Indiana Experience. However, I have some FREE PASSES available if you message me privately at thehoosiergardener at gmail dot com.
Published originally in December 2000, this column was inspired by the hanging chads of Florida.
Red bellied woodpecker, aka a chad. (C) Dreamstime/Wildphotos
Who’d have thought!
A chad has been foraging the birdfeeders. Rather than dimpled or hanging, this one is of the striped variety, with feathers and a red head.
Chad is one of the common names for the red-bellied woodpecker, also called the zebra woodpecker or the ramshack.
For the past few weeks, the woodpecker has been joining the juncos, finches, sparrows, chickadees, titmice, jays, doves and cardinals for snacks of safflower seeds.
The red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is about 9 inches long and seems to prefer seeds, nuts and berries, although it also will eat insects. Among its favorite fruit: bayberry, dogwood, Virginia creeper, wild grape, wild cherry, elderberry and poison ivy. For nuts, it likes beech, hickory, pine and hazelnut.
The red-bellied woodpecker used to be found only in the southeast United States (Florida?), but now is considered a permanent resident throughout the eastern part of the country, except for New England.
Why this bird is called red-bellied, I don’t know.
It has a flush of orange-red on the tummy, but this is hardly noticeable compared to the blotch of red on its head. Both males and females have the red heads, with the male’s coloring extending to his bill.
Just to confuse things even more, there’s a red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes ertyhrocephalus), which is about the same size but with a solid red head. The rest of the body has a color-block design of black and white.
None of these looks like Woody Woodpecker, the ha-ha-ha-ha-ha cartoon character we’re most familiar with. Woody is patterned after the pileated woodpecker, which ranges from 16 to 20 inches long and has that distinctive plume of red feathers atop its head. On rare occasions, these will visit the feeders, too.
Other woodpeckers frequenting my feeders are the downy and hairy, which look about identical to me. The downy is about 6 inches long and the hairy is nine. The books say the downy’s bill is about half as long as its head while the hairy’s bill is about the same length as its head. The tenths of an inch difference in bill size is hard to discern even with binoculars.
I’m so glad we’ve seen the end of Daylight Saving Time in Indiana for a few months. It’s light at 7 a.m. What a concept!
I guess it’s really not DST and changing the clocks back and forth as much as the time zone we are in. Indiana lies west of the line of demarcation between Eastern and Central time zones. The dividing line is in Ohio. Because we are beyond the western edge of this line, daylight doesn’t really take hold until about 8 a.m. when it’s DST, and night stays lit up until 9:30 or 10 p.m. We lose our mornings, which is terrible for an a.m. person.
Originally posted Nov. 1, 2009.
See previous posts about this topic:
Disruptions with Daylight Saving Time
I Hate Daylight Saving Time
Short's aster. Photo courtesy wildflower.org
Mother Nature shows off her best decorating skills this time of year.
Strewn along the roadways are asters (Symphyotrichum) and goldenrods (Solidago), native perennials in North America that make the perfect pairing of blues and yellows.
We can follow nature’s lead in our own landscapes by planting the native species or hybrid cousins. There are several garden-worthy hybrids of these native plants, such as ‘Fireworks’ and ‘Golden Baby’ goldenrods and ‘Raydon’s Favorite,’ and ‘Alma Potschka’ asters, to name a few.
Besides adorning backyards and byways, these plants are an important part of a greater ecology that includes birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife. For instance, these fall blooming perennials are a key food source for migrating, pollinating insects and hummingbirds, which stoke up on nectar as they wing south.
Both plants do best in full sun and they tolerate light shade. Plant in well-drained, average soil. Asters and goldenrod are similar in care to another fall bloomer, the Chrysanthemum.
'Solar Cascade' goldenrod. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
Cut back asters and tall goldenrods about half until the middle of July to rein in their height and increase the number of flowers. Depending on the cultivar, goldenrods can be fairly aggressive, spreading through underground stolens. At the end of the season when the plants look bad, cut them back to the ground and remove any debris to reduce the chance of disease or insect problems.
Asters tend to bloom a bit later and longer than mums, coming on at the tail end of goldenrod’s prime. Their long bloom period allows them to compliment the fall colors of trees and shrubs in the landscape.
Both plants may be susceptible to powdery mildew, so place them where they have good air circulation or use cultivars that are resistant to the fungus disease. Asters and goldenrods are lovely and long lasting as cut flowers, too.
One of the best things to do in fall and early winter is to make new garden beds.
The bed can be dug now, then piled high with organic matter. The additives decompose all winter, working their way into the newly dug bed to create a great planting place next spring. Here are three ways prepare a new bed.
- Remove grass and weeds.
- Dig the bed 12 to 15 inches deep, turning the soil.
- Apply several inches of compost or rotted manure and let the bed rest through winter.
- Dig a trench about 12 inches wide and the depth of the shovel or spade, moving soil into a wheelbarrow.
- Loosen the soil another 10 to 12 inches deep with a garden fork.
- Add a layer of organic matter, such as chopped leaves, compost or rotted manure.
- Dig a trench parallel to the first one. Spread the soil dug from the second trench onto the first.
- Add a layer of organic matter to the second trench.
- Repeat this process until you get to the last trench. Once the organic matter has been applied, spread the soil from the first trench to the last one.
There’s no digging or tilling and it’s incredibly easy. It is promoted by Patricia Lanza, author of the best-selling, award-winning book Lasagna Gardening.
- Place a layer of five sheets of newspaper or a single layer of cardboard over the area of the new bed and wet it down. No need to remove grass or weeds because the paper or cardboard will smother those plants.
- Apply alternate layers of shredded leaves, compost, rotted manure, kitchen scraps, shredded newspapers, untreated grass clipping, top soil and other green or brown organic matter, building to about 12 inches high.
- In spring, top off with a couple inches of compost and plant away.
Easy-to-grow amaryllis brightens late winter days. Photo courtesy bulb.com
In some stores, Christmas decorations are as prominent as Halloween candy.
We can use retailers’ jump on the holidays as a reminder to begin the process of getting our holiday plants to rebloom. Shorter days and longer nights trigger the bloom cycle in amaryllis, holiday cactus and poinsettia.
Amaryllis and cacti frequently are cherished as gifts or passalong plants from loved ones. These are fairly easy to get to rebloom.
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) — in fall, withhold water and place the potted bulb in a cool place for what’s called a rest period. Remove any brown foliage as it develops. After a couple of months, move to a sunny location and begin watering. In summer, move the potted bulb outdoors and fertilize as you would a container plant until late summer. Move indoors when temperatures drop to the 50s at night and begin the rest cycle again.
Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and Christmas cactus (S. bridgesii) — Thanksgiving cactus, which has leaves with pointed edges, blooms a little earlier than its Christmas counterpart. Fertilize during the growing season. In fall, reduce water and stop fertilizing for about six weeks to allow the plant to rest in a cool room. You can also place in a closet or under a box from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. for eight to 10 weeks. Move to a sunny window, begin watering.
Poinsettia (Euphorbia) — For about 10 weeks, keep the plant in a dark place between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. You can use a closet or place a box that excludes light over the plant. Remove the box or move the plant from the closet during the day.
One accidental exposure to light during the night will disrupt or delay the coloration.
The plant should be watered and fertilized during this period. Once the plant starts to develop color, the night treatment can stop. Move the plant to a bright area, but out of direct sun and away from drafts.
Christmas cactus. (C) Fotolia
Thanksgiving cactus. (C) Fotolia
These fall-emerging daffodils are likely paperwhites. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
We know this past summer has been a challenge, but was it enough to lure spring bulbs out of the ground in fall? That’s the question from reader L.C. in Carmel, Ind.
She said she planted daffodils (Narcissus) a year ago, but they did not bloom last spring. This fall, what looks like daffodil leaves are about 12-inch tall in one of her flower beds.
I sent photos of the foliage and a dug-up bulb to bulb merchants to see if they could help solve this garden mystery.
“All spring-blooming bulbs start regrowing roots and foliage in the fall, but the roots come first and the foliage usually stays below ground,” says Scott Kunst, an heirloom bulb specialist at Old House Gardens in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“I’m sure I’m not the only gardener who has been planting something else in the fall and accidentally dug us some crocus or other bulbs and noticed that they already have a shoot sprouting up and inch or more,” he says.
The challenge was trying to figure out what type of daffodils could send their foliage above ground in fall.
“I think they are paperwhites,” says Becky Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Gloucester, Va. “They bloom in fall.”
Paperwhites are daffodils that are usually not winter hardy in Indiana, thriving in USDA Zones 8 through 10, which are in the southern United States. Some may be hardy outdoors in USDA Zones 6 and 7 if the microclimate is just right.
In cold zones, many gardeners force paperwhites to bloom for the holidays and early spring. Photo courtesy Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center
Here in Indiana, we force paperwhites to bloom indoors, usually around the holidays. They are incredible fragrant and can perfume the room.
Paperwhites can be found in garden centers this time of year or ordered from online or mail order retailers.
As for what L.C., it’s possible her bulbs will bloom outdoors, but not likely. She might want to replace them with hardy daffodils for a spring show.
Cole's Select serviceberry in fall color. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
I know I’m late filing this Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day report, but I’ve been in the desert and didn’t plan far enough ahead to post this on Oct. 15.
Now that I’m back home again in Indiana, I’m even more appreciative of my landscape, drought-challenged plants and all. Although I enjoyed the architecture of the cactus and the beauty of the mountains, I felt fully broiled in the heat and headachy from the altitude. I think you just have to like the overall look of an otherworldly, barren landscape compared to Indiana’s green hues.
So this month, I celebrate my Hoosier landscape and its rich fall colors and aroma.
There are always surprises in the garden and this fall, it’s the blooming ‘Jackmanii’ clematis. It has weather the drought, clematis wilt and still pops a bud.
'Jackmanii' clematis in October. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
‘Raydon’s Favorite’ aster (Symphyotrichum) is blooming in its new space at the foot of two Hydrangea paniculata and Amsonia hubrichtii. The latter plants have not started to take on their fall hues, however.
I was kind of surprised by the color difference in the two native flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida) in the bed outside the living room window. One has an intense wine red, leather color and the other is a more of a dark pink. The wine-colored dogwood gets more sun than the pink one.
Native dogwoods with their fall color. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
Native dogwood. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
Native dogwood. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
The ‘Sikes Dwarf’ oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) is probably the most photographed plant in the garden. It’s what I see when I look out the kitchen window above the sink and when I walk out the back door. What you see when you look out the windows of the kitchen, office, living room or bedroom, is as important as what passersby see from the street. People often forget about planting for the views inside-out when they plan their landscape, focusing more on what’s seen from the street to the house.
Street bed awaits a new design. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
Speaking of street, while I was in Tucson, a crew pulled all the plants out of the bed, which has become overgrown with bindweed, a truly awful plant. So, the clean bed presents a new opportunity to redo one of the first gardens I planted when I moved here.
Please feel free to join in Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day the 15th of every month. All you have to do is write a bit about what’s going on in your landscape for your blog and post the link at May Dreams Gardens, which created the meme. More than 100 bloggers post every month.
Leaves started falling early this year because of the hot dry weather. And, recent freezing temperatures turned many perennials, annuals, vegetables and herbs to mush.
Must be time for fall cleanup.
Start with the worst looking annuals and herbs — impatiens, coleus, sweet potato vine and basil are among the most susceptible to cold temperatures. In the perennial group, hostas most likely took a hit.
It’s best to get these mushy plants cleaned up pretty quickly. A quick cleanup reduces the chance insects and diseases will find save harbor in the soil.
Downy mildew on impatiens leaf. Photo courtesy Purdue University Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory.
This year, gardeners and growers throughout the country battled a fungus called impatiens downy mildew, which turns the underside of the plant’s leaves white or gray.
If this happened to you, do not plant bedding impatiens (I. walleriana) in the same place next year. This disease only affects bedding impatiens. New Guinea and SunPatiens are not bothered by the disease.
Trade off with begonia, torenia, coleus or another annual that tolerates the same low light condition that impatiens loves. Many tropicals, including some gingers, also make good shade plants.
Besides a white mildew on the undersides of leaves, other symptoms include collapsed centers on the impatiens or all of the flowers will be on the tips of the plants. Avoid planting impatiens where there was disease for at least five years. Don’t compost any diseased impatiens.
Next, clean out the frost-damaged tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables. Some veggies, such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, can usually handle pretty low temperatures. To protect fall vegetables, cover them with a cloth sheet when frost is predicted at night and remove the covering in the morning.
To cut or not to cut
Whether to cut back perennials in fall is a matter of personal preference. Many of them, such as the seed heads of coneflowers and salvias, serve as a food source for birds in winter. Many seed heads also are attractive in the winter landscape.
If the perennials have been diseased or infested with bugs, cut them back and dispose or compost the trimmings. If you are concerned about perennials self-sowing, cut them back.
This is also a good time to apply a 2- to 3-inch layer compost or rotted manure to the vegetable bed and other gardens.
|November 3, 2012|
|8:00 AM||to||5:00 PM|
The Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society announces its 19th annual conference providing the know-how to help Hoosiers appreciate, grow and conserve Indiana’s rich heritage of native plants.
Set for Nov. 3, 2012 on the University of Indianapolis campus, the daylong conference will focus on two basics of botany: the identification of plants and their occurrence in nature.
“The better we can identify native plants, the better we can be advocates for them,” says Mike Homoya, state botanist/plant ecologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, who had a hand in developing this year’s conference theme.
Among the featured speakers is Rob Naczi, one of the leading botanists in the world. Naczi is the Arthur J. Cronquist Curator of North American Botany at The New York Botanical Garden and is revising one of the most commonly used guides to our North American flora, Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada.
Also on the program are James Locklear, Director of Conservation at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska, who has just written the book Phlox: A Natural History and Gardener’s Guide; Paul Rothrock, an expert on sedges and chairman of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at Taylor University; Sally Weeks, author of Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest; Kay Yatskievych of the Missouri Botanical Garden, who is coauthoring the Indiana Vascular Plants Catalogue; and Mike Homoya, author of Wildflowers and Ferns of Indiana Forests and Orchids of Indiana.
The conference will include a book signing and sale, vendor and youth education displays, and information on the Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society. Also rumored to be possible is a visit by the renowned Charles Deam, Indiana’s first state forester.
What: It’s All About the Plants, 19th annual Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society conference.
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012
Where: Schwitzer Student Center, University of Indianapolis
Admission/registration: open to the public. Non-members, $75 ($65 before Oct. 25, 2012); students, $35; INPAWS members, $60 ($50 before Oct. 25, 2012).
For more info: Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society, firstname.lastname@example.org