In the Garden – April

  • Ticks have arrived and are waiting to drop from shrubs and trees onto you. Thoroughly treat clothing with tick spray. Wear light-colored long pants and long sleeve shirt, and hat. Tuck pants into socks, and gloves over sleeve cuffs. Check clothing before entering the house after working in the yard.
  • Daffodils – Daffodils are rapidly fading. Snap off spent blooms at the base of the stem. Allow foliage to die back 2/3rds before cutting it or tucking under other plants. Never fold or braid the foliage as that restricts nutrients to the bulbs to form buds for next year. Plant daylilies in front of daffodils to hide the dying foliage. To divide, wait until mid-June to mid-August.
  • Houseplants – House plants make a house attractive and comfortable. Too often pets are attracted to them and can be toxic. The following  are pet friendly, easy to grow and inexpensive: African violet, Boston fern, banana, gloxinia, and phalaenopsis. Air plant and spider also purify the air.  WARNING: Easter Lilies are poisonous to cats.
  • Trees and shrubs – Wait to cut back bush honeysuckle and early blooming spirea until after they cease blooming. They set their buds for next year on this year’s growth. (Please note that tartarian honeysuckle, Morrow’s honeysuckle, and amur honeysuckle are all invasive in Kentucky and should be removed completely.Tulip magnolia sets its buds by July. For thick hedges top to bottom, prune at an outward angle creating a slightly wider base to allow sun to reach the bottom branches. Before trees leaf out, check for hanging broken limbs and remove.

2020 KNPS Botanical Symposium

On Dec. 11, 2020, Kentucky Native Plant Society held their first virtual membership meeting and botanical symposium. For several years, KNPS has organized a botanical symposium in the fall with a goal of bringing together professionals, citizen scientists, academics, gardeners and students in order to learn about what’s going on in the world of Kentucky Botany. Despite the pandemic year, they thought it was important to continue this event.

More than 120 people gathered online for several hours of informative presentations and interesting discussions. To share the information more widely, all of the presentations are now available online:

The Kentucky Botanical Symposium 2020

William Beau Weston Awarded GCKY Enrichment Award For 2020 

This award is given annually to a non-garden club member or organization that exemplifies the goals of The Garden Club of Kentucky.                 

Thanks to the vision and dedication of one man, Danville’s tree canopy will be increased by at least 500 trees in the space of 10 years, most of them lining the city’s main streets. William Beau Weston, Professor of Sociology at Centre College, has been working for years to shade the city’s sidewalks. 

Weston walks daily from his home on St. Mildreds Court near Centre’s campus, down Main Street, to his unofficial “office” at a local coffee shop downtown.  After the ice storm of 2009 took down so many old trees, his walk lost most of its shade. His first project was to organize the householders of St. Mildreds Court to plant 26 trees on their street. This led to a more ambitious plan to shade the sidewalks of Danville, which became the Danville Tree Fund.

In 2014 Weston learned about Kentucky Utility’s “Plant for the Planet” program. The program is modeled after the United Nations Environment Program’s “Billion Tree Campaign.” The purpose of this international effort is to bring individuals, communities, and businesses together to collectively plant over one billion trees worldwide each year. 

KU’s program is designed to encourage nonprofit organizations and local government agencies to plant more trees. A grant application must be submitted each year. For 5 out of the past 6 years, Kentucky Utilities has given the Danville program a grant to match what is raised locally, up to $5,000 a year. Grant winners have not yet been announced for 2019, but there is every hope that funds collected this year will be matched for next year’s tree planting. So far approximately $35,000 raised locally has been matched by KU. This wouldn’t have happened without the dedication of Beau Weston. 

He began by asking the Danville City Commission for its blessing in applying for the grants. The commissioners enthusiastically gave him the go-ahead. This became a joint effort of many individuals and organizations. Weston worked tirelessly in the beginning to connect the people who collectively run the program and to set up a secure system for collecting and disbursing the funds raised. 

By networking with many organizations, he came up with a winning combination: The county extension agent chooses the species of trees; the Danville Beautification Committee, which is made up of local citizens, picks the spots to plant the trees; the city of Danville provides the labor to plant and maintain the trees; and the Wilderness Trace Community Foundation handles the money. This is a perfect example of different constituencies working together for the common good – the city, the state (through the extension service), volunteer civic agencies, community betterment groups, KU’s corporate foundation, and many private citizens

Weston aims to collect at least $5,000 each year and is persistent in soliciting contributions from individuals and organizations before the grant application is due in November. One hundred dollars, matched by an equal amount from KU will buy one tree, but donations of any size are accepted. The goal is 50 trees a year and, depending on tree prices, it has been up to 75 trees planted in one year.  

Every year he sends out emails to anyone who might be remotely interested and arranges for publicity in the newspaper and on social media. Local organizations have contributed since the program began, along with many individuals, families, and businesses. Each year since 2017 Weston has applied for and been awarded a $500 grant from the Garden Club of Danville, which uses profits from its garden tours to support gardening and environmental projects.          

The trees are a mixture of species, especially native ones, that are suitable for high-traffic streets. They are sizable trees three inches in diameter and about 10-feet high. The KU grant requires that the trees be watered and maintained for at least three years, which is done by the city. Each tree gets a water bag for the first year and is watered as necessary for two more years. The city of Danville picks up the trees from the seller, stores them until planting time, plants them, supplies and fills the “gator” water bags, and maintains the trees. Weston says that these larger trees have a much better survival rate than the seedlings planted by some other organizations.

In the past six years over 300 trees have been planted along Danville streets, thanks to Beau Weston’s initiative and organizational skills. He has noted that the purpose of the project is to enhance the beauty and livability of Danville by providing all the things that trees are good for – shade, beauty, oxygen, animal and insect habitat, heat control, and civic pride. The Danville Tree Fund furthers all the objectives of the Garden Club of Kentucky by promoting interest in and knowledge of trees, beautifying our community, and cooperating with other agencies to promote conservation of native plants. 

Nominated by The Garden Club of Danville  


News articles

KY Nature Preserves – News for 2020

Kentucky Nature Preserves manages four distinct programs to conserve Kentucky’s natural areas. While these programs all share common goals—rare species habitat, environmental education opportunities, and conserving natural areas through a combination of land acquisition, conservation easements, and public-private partnerships– they have some differences. Find out what’s happening in our commonwealth’s national areas by reading the 2020 Report.

 

Things to do in November

  • Peonies – Remove this year’s perennials spent foliage. If peony foliage has fallen, rake it up to prevent disease carrying over to next year. If still attached pull it from the base. Do not add to the compose. Plant peonies while soil temperature is above 40 degrees(Sunday it was 60). Peonies planted now will grow feeder hair roots that take up nutrients preparing them for early spring growth.
  • Pumpkins – According to Margaret Roach, garden writer, recycle your un-cut pumpkin into a planter. Remove the top, clean the interior, fill 3/4s with potting soil and plant a perennial or spring seeds. When the pumpkin begins to wilt, plant it in the garden where it will provide nutrients as it breaks down.
  • Roses – Jackson & Perkins has introduced its 2021 roses. Pre-order now and pay when shipped. info@jacksonandperkins.com, 1-800-292-4769.
  • Houseplants – Protect plants from pets and small children by placing containers out of their reach. Keep foliage off of cold windows. Start Christmas cactus plants by placing 6” long leaf segments. When roots appear, plant in potting soil and share with friends.
  • Trees and shrubs – Use evergreen prunings to make wreaths. Submerge the prunings in water overnight to condition them, then place in a container with enough water to cover the stem ends, then in a cool location until ready to use. Magnolia is the longest lasting in or out of water. Pine dries the fastest. Personalize your holiday wreaths. Check out online and local nurseries for live wreath design ideas. Alternately, purchase an undecorated evergreen wreath and add evergreens from your yard. Include magnolia leaves and pods, deciduous leaves, spirea and ginkgo branches, dried perennial stems, privet berry clusters, bittersweet, and whatever of interest from your yard.

In the Garden – Storing Vegetables Overwinter

Warm spring, mild summer and plenty of water this year produced a bumper crop of vegetables. Some continue to produce more. No doubt you have given lots of vegetables and fruits to friends and neighbors, and frozen and canned the rest. What do you do with the remaining vegetables? Our grandparents saved them in the root cellar. Few of us have , but can create similar

Not all vegetables have the same storage requirements. Some prefer cold and dry, others cold and moist.

Storage is similar to that of tender flower bulbs. Store in a cool basement, unheated attic but not in an enclosed garage as the roots will absorb vehicle exhaust. Occasionally check as to moistness or dryness, rot, or root growth. If vegetables freeze, use them as soon as possible.

It is important to store vegetables at a consistent temperature. Insulated coolers packed with hamster bedding, straw, or newsprint are ideal. Vegetables that like cold and damp prefer 32-60 degrees with high humidity. Radishes and rutabagas store for 2-3 months; and beets, carrots and turnips 4-5 or 6 months. Remove excess foliage and keep roots from touching to reduce rot.

Cool and dry vegetables prefer 40-60 degrees. Store in wire baskets for greater air circulation, lower humidity (60-70 percent). Place onions( on high shelves(warmer). Hang garlic in mesh bags in a dark location Both onion and garlic will last 5-8 months.. Place beets, radishes and turnips into soil, in a bright window to provide winter harvest. Sweet potatoes will last 4-6 months, require 55-60 degrees and darkness. Keep winter squashes at 55-60 degrees. Store on an upper shelf individually. Acorn, small pumpkins and spaghetti squash last 1-3 months, buttercup and large pumpkins 3-4, and Hubbard and butternut 6 months.

Mint – a multi-purpose plant

Ah, summer is here, at least that is what the calendar says. My idea of summer is sitting on the porch with a cool glass of any iced drink to which mint has been added. No matter how hot it is,  mint makes it feel so much cooler.

Mint is very versatile. It enhances food, is used in cosmetics and medicines, and is often considered a weed as it is so easy to grow. No matter whether mint is native or hybridized, it is easily recognized by its fragrance and its unique square stem. The most popular, of course, are spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (M.piperita), though Applemint (M. suaveolens) is rapidly catching up to the first two.

USING MINT

In Kentucky, the most familiar use of spearmint is as the mint in Mint Julep at Derby Time. One preferred variety is actually called “Kentucky Colonel.” Spearmint is preferred over peppermint for its more subtle flavor, which accounts for its widespread use in foods from the Middle East, such as Lebanon and Iran, to this country.

Other flavored mints include Chocolate mint (a hit of spearmint, mostly used for desserts), Basil mint, lavender mint, licorice mint, and these fruity mints.

  • apple – less invasive and sweeter than most;
  • citrus – lemony, used in Asian dishes;
  • ginger – spicy, spearmint-like’
  • orange – strong flavor
  • grapefruit – subtle flavor
  • pineapple – variegated green and white foliage, mostly ornamental.

There is also pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), for which the Pennyrile Region was named. An American plant in the area is called False Pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides) and resembles the European species. Both can be lethal if ingested and yet are very soothing to the skin. In fact, rub any mint leaf on a bee sting and it will ease the pain. 

Liberally cut mint for fresh use or freeze any time of the year. Its essence peaks just before it starts to flower.

GROWING MINT

Mint is not a large family in the Plant Kingdom, but it is found world-wide. That means that different mints have different needs: some require wet soil and are often found along creek banks, pools, and lakes, while others  need well-drained or even very dry soil. Some like full sun; others like partial shade. Most have long, serrated leaves, though leaves may be oval or fuzzy.

The commonly grown varieties of mint prefer damp sites. Online catalog companies are generally sold out of seeds, but the more common plants still are available. Here are some ways to propagate it:

  1. The simplest way to propagate is pull up a handful of mint, cut in half, break the soil surface, water well, place the roots on the soil, cover with soil, and tamp down.
  2. Or, cut the top six inches, remove all but the top two sets of leaves, and stick in water. When root begin to form, plant in a container. Place the container on a hard surface and repot when roots grow out of the pot.

Be careful, though: Mint stolons (the root system) can spread 20 feet or more. Plant different varieties far apart or keep in pots, otherwise they will cross-breed and cancel out each other’s flavor.

Sources

  • Friends
  • local nurseries and garden centers (currently limited varieties)
  • Growers Exchange (thegrowers-exchange.com) mints listed above, native herbs, etc. $6.95. Ships in late August

Gardening Tips for July

“If it rains on the first ‘Dog Day’ (July 3), it will rain for forty days.”

From Secrets of a Kentucky Gardener by Karen Angelucci


15 Minutes gardening

Prevent herbs from going to flower or seed. Snip a handful of herbs, rinse, chop, fill ice cube trays and freeze to use in summer drinks or winter stews.

Garden

  •  Deadhead to force flowering plants to fool the plants in producing more flowers.
  • Daylilies: As they cease blooming divide and replant.
  • Ivy: Thicken ivy by watering it with a mix of ¼ teaspoon ammonia to a gallon of water every two weeks.
  • Hollyhocks: Condition hollyhocks by putting the cut stem in boiling water for a few seconds.
  • Container Gardening  Keep container plants moist. Watering at night  allows the plant to soak up water and start the day well hydrated. Bury the end of one end of wet cotton rope in the container plant’s soil and the other in a container of water. Place ice cubes on container plant soil to give it slow release water.
  •  No more moth balls: Once a popular animal repellent, never use moth balls around plants to control or repel animals. They are EPA-certified only for use in a sealed container for clothes moths only. The ingredients are not initially poisonous but can cause serious problems that can be lethal.
  • Beware of commercial compost: Do not use commercial compost if you garden organically. Insecticides may have been used on the composted plant material and they may break down or not.
  • Conditioning hollyhocks and dahlias, immediately place cut stems in water. Recut, dip in boiling water and then singe the stem ends.

Vegetables

  • Watermelons contain lots of water, but do not need excess water as they originated in arid areas and are adapted to storing water. Reduce water are they start to mature and avoid getting leaves wet as to reduce rot.
  • Garlic: Cut flowering society garlic to the ground to prevent going to seed. The seed have a high germination rate and soon will invade other plants. Cut flowering stems to dry readily for fall decorating.
  • Harvest herbs by cutting back at least 1/3. Sweet marjoram, oregano, sweet thyme and thyme respond to cutting to the ground. Gather bunches with elastic to hold them as the stems shrink and using a drapery hook, hang in a cool, airy, dark place to dry.
  • Tomatoes need 6 hours of full sun for best production. Big Girl tomato plant (Burpee) requires only 5 hours of sun.
  • Plant pumpkin (90-120 days to mature) until July. Soak the seed 6-24 hours before planting to soften the hard-shelled seed. As the fruit grows, inscribe a design or drawing for special Halloween decorations.

Lawn

  • Replace mower blades and have the old sharpened. Keep beds clean and cut grass from piling up around trees, mow away from the tree trunks.

Trees

  • Protect the trunks: String weeders are wonderful when edging beds and walks but can be deadly to trees when they break the bark, permitting insects and disease to enter. To prevent damage, place a one-liter plastic drink bottle around the base of the trunk. Cut off the top and bottom of the bottle, and slit along one side. Secure in place by mounding mulch or dirt on the outside.
  • Crape myrtles: Now is the time to start planting crape myrtles as they love hot soil. The Crape Myrtle Company (crapemyrtle.com) recommends feeding them now and early August with 10-10-10 as they are heavy feeders.
  • “Ann” Magnolia soulangeana (tulip magnolia)is a rebloomer. Not as many blooms as in the spring, but still a delight to see.
  • Pruning: Finish pruning spring flowering plants by the end of July.