Archive for September, 2011

Linda shows us how color, shape, and texture all work together for a gorgeous fall foliage display. She writes,  “I enjoy the brilliant color of Canna Phasion.  I paired it with a Coleus (seen in background).  I believe it was called ‘Color Blaze’.   Cannas have such great color in it’s foliage, the flower is only a bonus.  Canna Phasion has a bright orange bloom.”


Karen submitted a set photos of spectacular-looking assorted peppers she has in her garden this year. She writes, “These were all taken in my garden during September. I have been freezing a lot of peppers!”

These are for three batches of chili. They will taste good this winter.

Photo includes varieties Valencia, Orange, Golden California Wonder, Mariachi, Inferno, Big Bomb

Photo includes varieties Valencia, Orange, Golden California Wonder, Mariachi, Inferno, Big Bomb


"Orange" is purple first.

Karen is growing a new sunflower variety this year, Italian White. They are more branched than typical sunflowers and continue to bloom after the other varieties are done.


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New Blogistas

My apologies to Pat, Paul and Naida for forgetting to snap some photos of them at their workstations.  I had hoped to add a little visual interest to this rather mundane follow-up  post, and showcase their very professional looking work.

Sue and I had a few rough moments getting our equipment to work at the unfamiliar 4-H computer lab.  Finally, we managed to get most of it up and running with just minutes to spare.  By this time, both of us were more than a little frazzled by these unforeseen glitches…and taking pictures was the last thing on our minds!

I am disappointed only half of our registered participants were able to attend. However, this did allow Linda, Sue and I to give one-on-one instruction, which is the best way to go with anything computer related.  As a result, I am pleased to report that all of our “students” took to the posting side of things like ducks to water.

The ” hardest” thing was registering with WordPress.  The rest is so easy and intuitive, it makes posting a breeze compared with the challenges of regular desktop publishing.  Text composing and editing were covered in great detail until everyone was quite comfortable with doing it, and then photo uploading was addressed.  Linda’s CAD experience was put to good use in explaining how to set up and post photos in a slide show, which I think is a cool way to go.

By the end of the session, everyone was able to produce top quality postings using their own photos in a variety of formats.  WP lives up to its reputation as being the most user-friendly of the blogging programs, with a professional looking end product that anyone can produce with minimal training.

Between the two classes, I hope we have found a new group of “authors” who will become regular contributors to the blog.  We need this new input in order to provide fresh and varied content that will continue to interest you as our readers.



If Sue and Linda are willing, we will offer more classes in November for those who missed this round of sessions.  For anyone who wants to become more familiar with how the blog works, this will be an excellent opportunity to see what is done to produce the content.  Hopefully it might even inspire more of you to submit an occasional article.  Remember the blog is the voice of the association and it needs your support.

My thanks to 4-H director Judi See for allowing us to use the lab at such short notice and for Brenda Reau for making the arrangements.   We also owe Sue Ryan a big thank you for putting in so many hours of extra work developing the practice demo blog program, in addition to keeping the blog running and holding down a regular job.

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Sweetspire, or Itea Virginica "Little Henry" with Spring flowers

Are you a fan of “Burning Bush” Euonymus? Two years ago I planted a different shrub called Itea Virginica “Little Henry”. I also planted a variety called “Henry’s Garnet”. These deciduous shrubs have beautiful white flowers in the spring, green leaves in the summer, and gorgeous, deep burgundy color in the fall. They are very easy to grow and I recommend them instead of “Burning Bush” because of the beautiful flowers in the spring. Fall is a great time to plant woody ornamentals, so I hope you will try Itea Virginica in your yard.

Beautiful Fall Color of "Little Henry"

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Linda submitted another section of her gorgeous garden.  This area is behind the waterfall and has a wide variety of textures.

I am attracted to relationships between symmetry and asymmetry in nature. The sunflower I submitted a few weeks ago was one example. Here is another:

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Garden Structure

This year I added this seating area onto my potting shed.  I love to sit there and read garden magazines while contemplating what next will happen in my garden.  I tried to make it somewhat transitional in style by adding a few oriental details like the red circle openings on the sides, and planting some lucky bamboo, kale and  grass in the window boxes.  Yet it needed  to fit within the architecture of my small ranch home, so it was not out-of-place.   It’s still a work in progress. Included in the area around the shed are two oriental tree peonies; one is the new Itoh, Kopper Kettle, ( a hybrid crossed between the herbaceous peony and the woody tree peony) and a beautiful pink tree peony, known as  Guan Hong Xia.  Both bloomed well this spring along with my deciduous azaleas and wisteria as shown in photos.  The photo of the shed was taken about a week ago, showing the foliage from the current plants.  I am truly enjoying it this season. I’m looking forward to adding a vertical garden on the left side wall next spring.

The Potting Shed-bench

Itoh Peony Kopper Kettle

Guan Hong Xia

Deciduous azelia “Mandarin Lights”


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Well, mourning is over and it’s time to move forward. Our once shady yard is now nearly full sun, thanks to the emerald ash borers that killed six mature ash trees in our yard. We have been gradually working at getting them down, but the last two years we’ve so enjoyed easily observing the hummingbirds, finches, chickadees, waxwings and other birds’ behaviors as they perched, courted, fought over territory and scouted for predators from the dead branches. We finally decided they had to come down and spent this weekend working at it. Since we enjoy watching the hummers so much, we’ve decided to leave the trunks and use them as structures for flowering vines. I’m really thinking about trumpet vine or wisteria, but am nervous about their thug-like natures. (One good thing – the trunks are not near the house or shed.) I’d also like to find something that would cover the trunks and bloom in the next two years. Our soil is sandy and with a neutral pH, maybe a tick or two into slightly alkaline. What would some of our more experienced MGs advise?

emerald ash borer damage

I'm seeing the potential...


...or at least trying to.

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Here’s a great tool offered from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M System.  This is a great pictorial tool for tomato problems.  Just click on the link (or copy and past).


The website also has a guide for cucurbit problems.  I suggest you browse the site for other sources of information.


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This week, we have some lovely photos Georgeann took during her vacation. I can almost feel what this morning was like! Georgeann writes, “A foggy day in London town? No,  just a view from our pop-up camper in Norris Dam State Park south of Knoxville TN.”

Linda documented the outstanding color of her hibiscus growing along with Clematis and Mandevilla.

My bluebird box has an interesting inhabitant. I noticed him shortly after the second clutch of baby bluebirds fledged. He’s been there ever since.

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1  Children’s Garden 1 – In the Fall of 2005 when Jennie asked me to help her with the “Children’s Orchard,” I said “Sure, where is it?” She led me to that awful place along the field edge behind the storage area and the disposal tanks. After completing some much-needed clean-up, Jennie asked me if I would consider renovating the garden.  I worked on the design that Winter and with the help of a man and his truck (my husband Calvin) installed the 3 initial hardscape elements that would define the tiny space.
2  Children’s Garden 2 – Stella Kirby popped by the new “Children’s Garden” one evening in May of 2006 and helped me plant the 11 White Chiffon Rose of Sharon.  As the small garden grew, Stella continued to help in the garden and she and I became good friends.
3  Children’s Garden 3 – At the end of the first year, the little garden was taking shape.  The Rose of Sharon bloomed into September and the Hyacinth runner beans made a spectacular show covering the re-bar tunnel.
4  Children’s Garden 4 – In 2007 hundreds of marigolds and sunflowers filled the garden.  Several Master Gardeners started 10 varieties of dwarf sunflowers for the garden – small enough for smallest of garden visitors to enjoy.  Jennie suggested expanding the little garden along the field edge.
5  Children’s Garden 5 – By November 2007, with the help of many Master Gardeners’ hands, the expansion was completed.  A new path and a stone bridge were installed.
6  Children’s Garden 6 – Year three was an explosion of annual color.  The thymes were taking hold, softening the edges of the paths and giving off wonderful fragrances.
7  Children’s Garden 7 – Fall clean-up left the garden a blank canvas again for me to contemplate the next growing season during the winter months.
8  Children’s Garden 8 – Stella painted the rock turtles that dot the dry creek bed and hide in the thymes, adding more whimsy to the little garden.
9  Children’s Garden 9 – The garden continues to grow and mature.  The Blue Muffin Viburnum flowered profusely, but failed to hold the much-anticipated blue berries that the birds would have enjoyed.
10  Children’s Garden 10 – The Rose of Sharon, blooming from June through September, are the stars of the garden every year.  The garden hosts many visitors, including my Mom who instilled in me a love of gardening, and my youngest granddaughter, Zoe, who helped me plant annuals this year in the garden.
This little garden has been a joy to me and I hope to all who have visited there.  It would not be as special a place had it not been for all of the wonderful Master Gardeners who have helped each year along the way.   Thank you to all who have contributed to my learning process.  The Children’s Garden has been a true “Work n’ Learn” project for me for the past six years. 

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After attending a program on small fruit given by Jennie Stanger at Monroe Extension several years ago I decided to set aside part of my garden and dedicate it to a couple of rows of strawberries and a row of raspberries.  It was one of the best decisions I ever made!  My love affair with raspberries started with the purchase of 25 (5 plants minimum order) plants from Nourse Farms in 2009, with the variety Caroline (an improved Heritage) being my choice.  Nourse is a great supplier and they have a very informative and colorful website which takes much of the guess out of choosing a variety, planting, harvesting and caring for your plants.

The first spring of planting those wooden looking sticks in the ground it didn’t look very promising.  As that year progressed new plants started appearing in the rows between the “sticks” and by fall I even picked a few handfuls of raspberries.  The next year the row had pretty much filled in and I was in business.  The photos are of 3 years after planting – one 30′ row of about 18 plants (I shared extras) gives me all the raspberries I could want.  So far this year I have made 3 batches of jam, 8 pies and shared with my daughter and her family for smoothies and cereal.  I am picking about 5 quarts every other day and the season is only about half over.

I hope by sharing my story and seeing these photos you will be encouraged to try dedicating an area for raspberries.

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