Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I'll forget the same old boring recap of 2009 and run happily into the 2010 gardening year.

The eternal optimist, I can envision beds of beautiful flowers, vines twining perfectly up the side of the shed, bushes the exact size for the spot, apples without a spot, and the garden full of bright red tomatoes from summer to frost.

Aw, yes, winter dreaming is a good time for the gardener.

If you have a moment, it's a good time to sort out what worked and what didn't. Don't be harsh on yourself, you are always at the mercy of "mother nature."

Sort your gardening pictures and save the best for the records or journal (either on paper or computer.)

It's a good time to bring the garden journal up-to-date with notes on plant performance. Once I retired, I finally made the time to document and journal my plants. It's been fun and informative.

I admit I tend to "over organize"; it's my thing and I enjoy organizing. I keep both paper and computer documentation. There are times when it's handy to take a paper copy about a certain plant with me to the garden or nursery.

The computer documentation is an excellent place to store pictures. It's cheaper than developing my many photos of a beautiful plant today, tomorrow and often. It's easy to use, to store, and to access. It enables posting pictures to my garden blog, to a friend, or to enter a contest.

I have a PC program to document each plant. It has a place for the common & Latin name, the date, place and cost of purchase, a place for the picture and all the information regarding the plant. I then record where it's planted. On the back of each is a sheet for recording the yearly data (bloom times, problems, notes to myself about moving, and etc.)

It's interesting to watch the growth of trees and other perennials plants. Did I really get the Canadian hemlock ten years ago and could it have grown six feet?

If you plant lots and often, it can help you realize the mortality rate of certain nurseries' products. Does one have a certain trend for surviving where another seems not worth the money because of overall loss?

Have you planted a certain perennial for the last three years? You have loved it each year when you walked through the nursery in the spring not realizing you thought that three years in a row and still don't have a surviving specimen. This allows you to save money and as importantly, it allows you to analyze if this plant is simply wrong for your growing circumstances.

Another great winter past time is sitting with a cup of hot chocolate and reading a new plant catalog. Chocolate and garden pictures, it's a good thing!

Check out your local public library for garden books.

Garden journaling can start with a simple notebook or can be as involved as a PC program that includes a garden template for diagramming your beds and plants.

The bottom line for winter gardening is to enjoy yourself at a time when no muscle or worry is needed. Maybe the most valuable thing about a winter garden is the chance to ponder without the guilt that something needs to be plucked.

"Little flower, but if I could understand, what you are, root and all in all, I should know what God and man is." Alfred Lord Tennyson.
________________________________________________

Every nineteen years, a full moon appears on New Year's Eve. Plus, when there are two full moons in a month - the second is called a "Blue Moon." Tonight is THE night for these two events. The moon is going to be very bright at exactly twelve midnight. As you are celebrating the beginning of 2010, take a look - it should be a beauty.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pondering


I subscribe to the free weather tickler (the one at the bottom of this Blog) and also the WQAD weather notification on my Facebook page. Yes, I'm a weather junkie.
In addition, I have a weather system that reads the current weather and records the historical data for rainfall, wind, temperature, barometric pressure and notifies of changes coming. We have severe weather alert boxes and old fashioned rain gauges. Weather junkies moves into weather crazies!
There are certainly residents of the Midwest who hate cold weather, snow, ice and wind. Many become snow birds and a lot more just complain.
I'm one of those who enjoy the change of seasons and am thrilled (now that I'm retired and don't drive in it) when we have a big snow. Besides the obvious fun the teens are having in the field next to the house (pictured), the cold and snow is beneficial and sometimes necessary for some of our plants.
One example is the spring bulbs we northerners love. They need a period of rest during the winter to produce flowers in the spring. If not done by nature, they must be dug and kept in a refrigerator.
Cold weather (often freezing) enhances the flavor of some garden vegetables such as those in the broccoli family.
Winter snows are like an insulating blanket over our perennials. They help keep the wind and other damaging winter weather from having adverse effects on the plants. Cold wind is a major culprit for winter kill. It sucks the moisture out of the plants.
This is one reason I leave much of my dried foliage on the beds all winter - it traps the snow around the plants. A cheap mulch for sure.
The snow also provides additional protection for critters and birds. We have several brush heaps in our woods, purposely put there to provide shelter and nesting. Without the dogs, it could get out-of-hand with raccoons and other pesky critters but the brush piles are inhabited by nature's little curious beings. During a particularly cold and wet winter, the brush with it's covering of snow, is like a little igloo.
I suppose one of the most delightful benefits of a frozen snow covered garden is it gives the gardener rest and a time to ponder. Pondering is a lost art and I'm sure we need a global movement to bring it back. I was reminded of this yesterday while we were sitting at a local farmer coffee shop. Farmers are the world's best pondering experts.
I must go now - I have some serious pondering to accomplish this snowy day!
"A garden is half made when it is well planned. The best gardener is the one who does the most gardening by the winter fire." Liberty Hyde Bailey

Monday, December 28, 2009

Waves of Monarchs

Image of a Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus.


Several years ago I looked up into my big old walnut tree and noticed the leaves looked particularly odd. It appeared they had turned a rust color.

When I got close, I realized the branches and leaves were covered with hundreds of Monarch butterflies. It was late summer and late in the afternoon. I was witnessing a portion of the southern migration of Monarchs.

Every summer, the last generation of eastern Monarchs migrate south to spend winter in the eastern Micheocan Mountains near Mexico City, Mexico. The first generations die after about 8 weeks (their life cycle.) This last generation will last about 9 months. The life cycle is egg, caterpillar (larvae), chrysalis (pupa) and the adult butterfly.

The scene in the tree was a picture I could not adequately capture with my camera. From a distance it simply looks like dark rust leaves. Up close and the magnitude of the numbers aren't captured.

Today, I found a web site that you might enjoy next fall: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/maps/monarch

This is the Annenberg Media Foundation's Journey North - Fall 2009 Monarch Butterfly Migration: Overnight Roost sightings. They are already setting up for 2010 migration sitings.

Included in this site are other migrations and educational tools for teachers. It features a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal changes.

If you enjoy the Monarch butterfly and would like to encourage them in your garden, plant milkweed. The Monarch (larvae) caterpillar ONLY eats milkweed (their host plant.)

The adult butterfly eats an all liquid diet of flower nectar, water and liquids from mushy fruit (slices of ripe banana, orange, or watermelon.) Think of their mouth parts as a straw sipping liquid.

The particular type of milkweed must be one that is high in a certain toxin that make the emerging butterfly poisonous to predators. The Monarch's coloring is a warning to predators that they are indeed toxic.

The false milkweed, Cynanchum swallow-wart, actually fools the butterfly into thinking it's a host but the larvae will not develop. Do not plant this.

Plant nectar flowers such as butterfly weed and purple coneflowers and plant in masses. Butterflies are near sighted and are more easily attracted if the flowers are very obvious and brightly colored.

Some other tidbits:

  • All butterflies are cold blooded insects and enjoy having flat rocks in the sun to warm themselves.
  • They will also want a moist spot. A saucer filled with wet sand or mud will attract many kinds of butterflies.
  • You can not use insecticides or herbicides - they are deadly to both the larvae and the butterfly.
  • Milkweed is not always liked by some because some varieties can be invasive. Asclepias syriaca is the common one you see on our roadsides and spreads by rhizomes. It is a Monarch favorite but not necessarily an agricultural favorite. Plant where it can be contained.
  • Some milkweed prefer moist conditions - do your research first.
  • The Monarch is one of the longest migrating creatures on earth.
  • 70% of the population in Mexico was killed in 1991 as a result of freezing weather.
  • The Monarch is the Illinois State Butterfly.
  • The Monarch is not a pest and causes no agricultural damage.

As we are sitting inside these snowy days, planning or improving your butterfly garden should include some of the Monarch's needs. And maybe, just maybe, your yard will be an evening hotel for those migrating Monarchs.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Day of Winter - Burrrrr


December 21, 2009 is the first day of winter and also the shortest day of the year (as far as daylight goes.) The Winter Solstice will officially begin at 12:47 pm. Although there are other factors in different parts of the world, in the Northern Hemisphere, we think of winter in terms of "COLD"!


Have you noticed an increased number of birds at your feeders this past week? By continuously having their favorite foods, they will learn to count on your feeder. If you only put food in it periodically, you may never have the variety of birds that make winter bird watching so much fun.


You should begin to see Grosbeaks joining the blue jays, cardinals, nuthatches, various finches and sparrows. As soon as their food reserves begin to dwindle, the woodpeckers will frequent the feeders more. It's time to put out my homemade suet cakes.


I keep a large feeder at the back by the woods full of corn for the squirrels to help them want to stay away from my sunflower seeds. It mostly works. The squirrels are mating now through February - as if we don't have enough. Our dogs usually keep the number thinned but this year we have seven living in our woods.


Both birds and critters will be looking for handouts as long as we have snow cover.


As a side note: Be sure to provide a dry shelter, warmth, food and fresh water for your pets this winter. Please don't torture them by neglect.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Heirloom vs. Elderly

Pictures of Heirloom roses: Bucks Blue Skies and Bucks Queen Bee.


I've decided instead of seniors being called "elderly", the name should be "heirloom." I'm just sure that has a less negative connotation!
Think about it: We treat heirloom plants as if they were very valuable and in danger of disappearing. We have clubs, catalogs, websites, and university programs all designed to honor and preserve. Not so much old folks - although I'll drop the grumble and go on with the article.
Since a few ago when I wrote about heirloom plants, I have received some catalogs from companies that specialize in mostly heirlooms. I thought I'd share their names in case you'd like to browse their pages this winter. I've purchased from them all and had good products and customer service.
"Heirloom Roses" http://www.heirloomroses.com/ Some facts: in addition to a full array of different roses, they carry roses that are hardy in our zone. Both of the two pictured from my garden came from this vendor. Beautiful catalog and they have their own BLOG.
"Heirloom Seeds" http://www.selectseeds.com/ Some facts: they have an on-line newsletter and many hard-to-find seeds.
"Brushwoods Nursery" http://www.gardenvines.com/ Some facts: they carry both heirloom and newer plants - mostly vines. They have a big selection of clematis.
"Old House Gardens" http://www.oldhousegardens.com/ Some facts: they feature heirloom bulbs. Their newsletter has an amazing amount of information regarding heirloom plants, old gardens, and history.
There are many more heirloom related sites, I just haven't bought from them so can't give you the value of their information and products. Feel free to share sites, catalogs or vendors you have used.
Now, about this elderly vs. heirloom debate - I vote heirloom!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Trahlyta la la la la la




It's almost Christmas, what am I doing in "Daylily Madness" again??? It happens that the 2009 American Hemerocallis Society cultivar award winners are announced and featured in The Daylily Journal - Winter 2009 edition!
The pictured daylily from my garden, Hemerocallis "Trahlyta" won the Lenington All-American Award. The Lenington Award is given to to a single cultivar annually which is recognized to be the best performer over a wide geographic area. (Trahyta had previously won an Award of Merit in 2004 and Honorable Mention in 2001.)
Best performer of a wide geographic area always means good news for those of us who garden in Zone 5 or colder. It guarantees the daylily is no "wimp" in our cold winters and hot damp summers and will also survive drought.
Introduced by the late Frank Childs in 1982, it became a resident of my garden in October of 2008.
This is one of those daylilies that no picture can do it justice. It may become my favorite as the plant matures.
Here are the qualities of Trahlyta (other than the happy Christmas carol kind of name):
6 1/2 inch silver/gray lavender soft violet/purple with a dark ruby/purple eyezone and yellow/green throat. It is a single bloom with slightly ruffled edges. At maturity, it stands on a 30 inch stalk and blooms early to mid season. It is said to rebloom but probably won't in our area. It is a Dormant variety and very fragrant. It divides and spreads and is a Diploid.
The reason for the many variations of colors describing the blooms is because it can look different in different weather, times of the day, light, and maturity. All looks are beautiful but let me describe what the camera can't capture.
The petals remind me of gun metal but more lavender/purple and totally dusted with pearlizing. It is so different from other colors of daylilies (or other perennials) it stops you in your tracks when in bloom. Each day it offers up a big beautiful flower that you swear can not get any better - until tomorrow. I often pick it just to observe the beauty and fragrance all day long in the house.
It doesn't have a downside for me. It doesn't spot in the rain, is sturdy enough to withstand storms, the changes in color are not a negative or lessening of beauty, and it doesn't clash with most other colors. I would advise putting it where it can be the center of attention. Mine is surrounded by light lavender and dark colors. It takes time to produce the 30 inch stalks and should be planted near the front of your beds.
For it's age (almost 30 years), it remains a favorite of daylily gardeners everywhere. It would make a very nice Christmas present for someone who has Daylily Madness!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gifts for the Magi




Few holidays, Christian or other, have more symbols involving plant life than Christmas.
The three wise men, as recorded in Matthew 2:11, presented gifts to the baby Jesus of gold and frankincense, and myrrh. This story was set to music in 1857 by John H. Hopkins in "We Three Kings of Orient Are."
Did you ever wonder exactly what a gift of myrrh and frankincense would look like?
Myrrh is a small, spiny shrub or trees of knotted branches and native to Yemen, Somalia, eastern Ethiopia, Jordan, and India (the Indian plant is considered inferior.)
A member of the "Burseracae" plant family, the brown-red clumps of resin are naturally found in the cracks of the tree. High quality myrrh resin is dark and clear. The scent of raw myrrh resin and oil is sharp, pleasant and somewhat bitter. Unlike other resins, myrrh expands and blooms when burned instead of melting or liquefying.
Uses are as scent in incense, wine, perfume, toiletries and often used when performing church sacraments. Up to the 15th century, it was used by Jews as an embalming ointment. It has been documented as far back as 3,000 BC. As in ancient times, myrrh is still used as an antiseptic.
In the Roman and Greek mythical story, "Ovid's Metamorphoses", Myrrh was the mother of Adonis and she was the origin of the tree.
During biblical times, myrrh "Commiphora myrrha" was literately worth its weight in gold and five times more valuable than Frankincense. The use and symbolism of myrrh is written about in both the old and new testaments of the Bible. It is currently used in Chinese and Saudi Arabia for medicine.
Frankincense "Boswellia carteri" was also considered more valuable than gold. It typically grows in the same regions and has biblical references. As with all herbals, it was a valuable commodity on the ancient trading circuits. It was a known fragrance for mourning the dead.
From the same botanical family as Myrrh, Oman, Yemen and Somalia produce internationally traded frankincense and myrrh.
The aloe gum resin of frankincense is obtained from a small tree/shrub with pink or white flowers. It burns a white fragrant smoke and was used to carry prayers to heaven.
Farming Frankincense has similarities to maple syrup harvesting. The difference is this product use does not go into foodstuff but into medicines and fragrances. Growing either shrub/tree outside its native areas has not been very successful. If you want either, you will need to contact an import spice retailer.
Gourmet incense & essential oil retailers, spice stores, and homeopathic solutions outlets are all available to the shopper. Unlike gold, it is considerably cheaper if you want to purchase for the gardener who has simply everything. One source listed a one pound bag of a mixture of frankincense and myrrh incense resin for about $18. As of 11-30-09, an ounce of gold was selling at $1,175 an ounce. As with all natural resources, the "value" is determined by the desire to own.
As you hear those old familiar Christmas carols or smell the fragrance of myrrh or frankincense during religious ceremonies, you can now identify two more plants that have become so important they are the subject of religious law, scriptural stories, ancient myths, and herbal remedies.
"Frankincense to offer have I, Incense owns a Deity nigh. . . Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom . . ."
-"We Three Kings of Orient Are" by John H. Hopkins

Monday, December 14, 2009

Feliz Navidad!


The poinsettia is almost as much a part of Christmas decorating as the tree.
Like the tree, it can be bought in both real and artificial forms. Save year after year or get the "WOW" factor of a live plant.
I've bought from big box stores and from local dealers and found the biggest differences are size and color.
Seldom does a big box store have the huge plants nor the new colors. If you want an all red and maybe a few variations for smaller and cheaper decorating, big box is your best buy.
If you want a statement, visit a local nursery or garden center. The cost can be reasonable or "are you kidding me" expensive. I most often buy from our local "Prairie Country Gardens" and her plants are large, healthy and reasonably priced. I've coveted the spectacular ones at Green View Nursery (outside Chillicothe) but so far have regulated myself to looking, not buying.
Each year the leaf colors (yes, it's not a flower but colored leaves you see at the top of the plant) are expanded to new selections. Pinks, corals, orange, pale green and marbles compliment the white/cream and red we have enjoyed for years.
Ohio State University did a study that showed the poinsettia plant is not poisonous. Their report said a 50 lb child would have to eat over 500 leaf brackets to have even a mild stomach ache. I've never seen a child voluntarily eat spinach let alone 500 leaves of anything else. The milky sap may cause skin irritation to those allergic to latex.
Euphorbia pulcherrima was introduced to the US in 1828 from Mexico. It grows wild on the entire Pacific coast of Mexico. The Aztecs used it for a purple red die. It's a ten foot plant whose wild form doesn't resemble our hybrid ones.
Some facts: 90% of all poinsettias are bought in the US for an average of $220 million dollars spent on these beauties yearly. 80% are bought by women, 80% by people over 40 yrs. of age, 74% buy red, 8% white and 6% pink.
http://www.ecke.com/ is the site of the first and until recently the only breeder in the United States. They had the patient on what we know as the table poinsettia. They have history and home care instructions plus some really beautiful pictures.
They also have instructions on how to plant outside and get it to re bloom. I've never accomplished a re bloom (probably my lack of desire to follow the exact instructions). I have had success planting outside in late spring and having a beautiful (all green) bush type plant until frost killed the plant.
Enjoy your own poinsettia or simply enjoy the ones you can see in shops and displays. They are a visual Christmas joy.
Feliz Navidad!
(Happy Christmas)

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Holly and the Ivy



I've had two evergreen holly bushes for years: Hex x meserveae "Blue Princess" and Hex Mesdob "China Boy".



Although they are not with out their particular needs, they are beautiful landscaping plants and valued for Christmas decorations.


You must have both a male and female plant if you want the female to produce berries. Both of the above will grow slowly to perhaps 10 ft and be approximately 8 ft wide. They grow in full sun or partial shade.


Their evergreen shiny bright green leaves, small white flowers and red berries make them a year-round landscaping accent.


Both of the above have good winter hardiness BUT they are sensitive to cold winter winds. They need protection of some sort or the exposed branches will die. The plant will not die but it can make a bush unsightly due to odd trimming necessary to get all the dead out each spring. I use mulch; others may use a windbreak of tarps, burlap, or other. Don't completely cover the plant or it may get cooked on a sunny winter day.


It has a deep and extensive root system. It can be left "natural" or pruned in shapes. They can be as little as 6 inches or as a holly tree that grows to 70 ft. Most, but not all, are evergreen.


Hollies all prefer acidic well drained soil (much like wooded areas.)


  • The ancient Celts and Britons believed the holly was imbued with special spirits and that it was sacred. Sprigs were cut and brought indoors to remind these ancients the evergreen plant kept the spirits alive.
  • The Romans thought it brought them out of winter and protected them from evil spirits that came down the chimney.
  • Early Christians associated the holly with Christ's "crown of thorns" and the red berries with His blood.
  • It was believed to be the wood used in the Crucifixion cross because all other trees refused to be cut when touched by the ax.
  • It is often tucked behind pictures of Christ on the 12th night celebration as a Passion symbol. It is in most pictures of saints.
  • One legend states the holly plant grew leaves in winter on the night of Christ's birth to hide Him from Herod's men. It is now evergreen as a token of Christ's gratitude.
  • In astrology, people born in June are known as "Holly People."
The holly has 400 species and can be grown in fifty of our states and all continents except Australia and Antarctica. The first Pilgrims' records mention holly (1620).


It's the state tree of Delaware and the white wood is used in the most finely carved chess pieces.


Holly has been used for many herbal applications (most discontinued): a tea made from the leaves reduces fever and relieves arthritis. The berries are toxic and can cause serious vomiting.


Eighteen different birds eat the berries, including thrushes, goldfinches, blackbirds, bobwhites, morning doves, cedar waxwings and turkeys. Because it is so dense, songbirds find it a desirable nesting place. White tail deer find it "yummy". It doesn't self seed readily nor is it harmful to livestock.
Tuck a few branches of holly into your holiday decorations and bring a new tradition to your home. "Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Santa Baby


If a gardener is on your Christmas list, here are a few ideas that could make you their very favorite “Santa Baby.”



The Produce Gardener:
Seed starting kits, grow lights, & seeds. Plant markers, mulch, and tools such as hoes, rakes, and seeders. A basket of grapefruit, oranges, pineapples, or other non-local selections. Pruners, loppers, baskets, or shears. Gift certificate at local nursery.



The Flower Gardener:
Pots in colors to match their outside d├ęcor. Gift certificate at a local nursery, mail order catalog or on-line. Plant markers, garden journals, computer gardening program, trellis, bench, potting soil, mulch, or leather rose gloves.


The Lawn Manicurist or Landscaper:
New mower blades. Power tools. Soil testing kit. Gift certificate at a mower tune-up shop. I qualify this one by saying not everyone likes these: Statues, gazebo, stepping stones, gazing globe, and other decorative items.


The Indoor Gardener:
Window pots filled with herbs. An Amaryllis bulb and pot. A wreath of live greenery. Spring bulbs to force. Live plants: orchid, ivy, violet, Christmas cactus, poinsettia, or a small live Christmas tree. A grow light. Kitchen composter.


The Bird & Nature Watcher:
Bird, bee, or bat houses. Bird or squirrel feeders. Bird seed or suet. Bird books (I particularly like the National Geographic “Field Guide to N. American Birds” and the “National Audubon Society Field Guide’s to birds, mushrooms, reptiles, insects & spiders, butterflies, wildflowers and fossils.) Field glasses and journal.



Appeals to All Gardeners:
A gift that doesn’t require the exchange of money: An IOU or personal gift certificate to help mow, till, pull weeds, lift heavy things, plant or fetch things. This is an excellent gift anytime.
A good digital camera and memory chip. An external drive for storing pictures without taking up your computer’s hard drive.



Solar lights. Lawn furniture. Live cut flowers in a vase. Composter. A heavy duty water hose. Lightweight tool box. Kneeling bench or pad. Heavy duty garden gloves. Hand cream, sunscreen, and sun hat.


There are books on every topic any gardener might find interesting. A subscription to a newsletter or magazine specializing in the gardener’s favorite topic.



Boots (clogs, short or wellies), bib overhauls, shovels, hoes, pruners, heavy-duty scissors, wheelbarrow, and lawn cart.


Weather instruments: Thermometers, wind & pressure gauges, rain gauges, rain barrels or urns, watering can, and hose guides.



If you aren’t sure what your gardener wants or what brand or quality they prefer, a gift certificate is a wise and appreciated choice. Don’t buy a gift certificate if you don’t know the store (either local or on-line) because if they go out of business prior to using, there is usually little recourse. Buy a small Christmas stocking and tuck the gift certificate inside.


“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” Roy L. Smith

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Squash

Today is Thanksgiving and I have many things to be thankful for this 2009 year.

Because I have a wheelbarrow full of Butternut Squash, I'm trying to fix new squash recipes and use them up.

I've been rather unsuccessful pushing them on friends and family. . . . hummmm.

Yesterday, I baked three large squash. 320 degrees for 2 plus hours (until a knife inserted in the neck indicates it soft.) They should first be wrapped & sealed in foil. Let stand after cooking for two hours. Unwrap, peel with vegetable peeler, scoop out seeds and strings, chop (or mash) and freeze the squash meat in bags.

Aside from specific squash recipes, it is good in soups as a thickening agent, cakes in place of fat, tomato sauces and many other dishes to simply add flavor and nutrients.

The recipe I used today was "Squash Delight" from the "Hickory Works" on-line store.

Heat oven 350 and butter a 12 x 7 x 2 inch pan.

Cook and mash 2 lbs (2 cups) Butternut Squash.

Add:

2 Tbsp. Maple or Hickory Syrup

1 Med. Onion chopped fine

1 Cup Shredded carrots

1 Cup Sour Cream

1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup

Fold all the above together. (This portion can be made ahead & refrigerated)

8 oz. packages Herb Stuffing Mix prepared with Chicken Broth.

Spread half of stuffing in the bottom of the pan. Gently add & level the squash mix and top with the remaining stuffing.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November Happenings


The following bird & critter information is thanks to the Peoria Journal Star's sports reporter, Jeff Lampe. I've collected these bits over the years and finally entered them in my journal. I thought I'd share the November happenings.

Although we gardeners think of November as a quiet month, as you can see, nature is quite busy.

  • River otters breed.

  • Great horned and barred owls are courting.

  • White tail deer rut peaks in mid month.

  • White tail deer does enter first estrus.

  • Deer-vehicle collisions peak.

  • Sauger and walleye are good on the rivers.

  • Quail form coveys.

  • Crow migration peaks.

  • Turkey flocks split, and young jakes group up in flocks.

  • Bluebill migration started early this month.

  • Peak canvasback and mallard duck migration.

  • Lesser scaup migration occurs.

  • Most doves are en route to winter areas along Gulf Coast.

  • Winter birds, such as juncos, tree sparrows, and purple finches arrive.


~~ . , . ~~


I've had tree sparrows, purple finches, nuthatches, blue jays, cardinals, gold finches, downy woodpeckers, black capped chickadees, and a red bellied woodpecker on my feeder this month.

From the National Weather Service records:

The record low temperature for November was in 1977 at minus 2 degrees.

The record high temperature for November was in 1950 at 81 degrees.

The average low temperature for November is between 25 and 37 degrees.

The average high temperature for November is between 41 and 57 degrees.

The 2008 rainfall for November was 1.12 inches.

The 2008 snow for November was 4.6 inches.

Illinois and Indiana Departments of Natural Resources for deer/vehicle accidents:

1.5 Million is the average number of deer/vehicle accidents for the United States per year.

Illinois ranks third for the most per year - There were 24,212 deer/vehicle accidents in 2008 - including two human fatalities.

Howard County, Indiana had 6.6% of their accidents in 2008 from deer/vehicle crashes.
~~. , .~~
Enjoy what's left of this Fall season.
Winter, dear friends, is on the way.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Old by Any Other Name







Images: Batch of heirloom tomatoes. Old fragrant peony. Wild petunia. Heirloom hollyhocks.



What is an Antique/Heirloom flower?

The most widely accepted definition is antique or heirloom plants are open-pollinated varieties that originated 50 or more years ago. Open-pollinated flowers are fertilized by insects, hummingbirds or wind, and the resulting seeds will produce plants that are identical or very similar to the parent plant.

Heirlooms have typically adapted to whatever climate and soil they're grown in and are resistant to that region's pests, diseases and weather extremes.

The definition of the word heirloom, when describing plants, is highly debated. Here are some expert opinions:

  1. The age or date point on cultivars must be over 100 years old.
  2. The age or date point on cultivars must be over 50 years old.
  3. Anything prior to 1945 (the end of WWII). This was the beginning of widespread hybrid use by growers and seed companies.
  4. 1951 is the last year a plant can be originated and still be called an heirloom. That was the year widespread introductions of the first hybrid varieties hit the markets.
  5. Another set of experts declares heirloom cultivars are those plants that have been nurtured, selected and handed down from one family member to another for many generations.
There is another definition similar, but definitely different, called "commercial heirlooms." They were introduced commercially generations ago and had enough merit to have been saved, maintained and handed down even when the seed company or business has gone out of business and the seeds have been dropped from the market.

Most experts agree the plants must be open pollinated and no genetically modified organisms used.

There is a growing controversy concerning the growing and storage of heirloom seeds by only seed companies and government entities. It is feared all dependency will be insured to only those seed companies and the true heirlooms will be lost forever.

Heirloom plants are typically vegetables and before industrialization of agriculture, a much wider variety of plant foods was grown for human consumption.

The industrialization maximizes consistency for shipping, storing, shape, color and tolerance to drought, frost, or pesticides. Nutrition, flavor, and variety are frequently secondary or not a concern at all. This has led many to turn "back" to heirloom varieties in their personal gardens.

There is also seed gene banks - a new and controversial movement.

Many of our national parks practice "in-situ" conservation" of seed producing plant species. This allows the targeted seeds to grow in their natural environment, unlike an arboretum that grows them in a protected state.

Aside from the above bigger issues and convoluted definitions, gardeners grow heirloom plants for many reasons:
  • There is the historical interest of preserving a plant that was grown by our ancestors, friends, historical figures, or during a particular era.
  • Increasing the available gene pool for future generations. An effort to keep these plant from becoming extinct.
  • Use in organic gardening.
  • Others simply want the taste or variety of vegetables.
  • And, those that want to grow something rare or different.
Heirloom plants may take a little more care in the beginning, an ability to expect and tolerate the more subdued, and a realization you're in for a different experience.

I once grew an old Polish heirloom tomato that had purple flesh. It was wonderfully delicious but getting past the purple took a little mental adjustment.
If you've never grown heirloom plants, give one a try. Or, if you currently grow them, share the seeds. I never look at my "Cousin Bonnie" hollyhocks (started from seeds she shared) that I don't think of family.

"Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." - II Corinthians 9:10-11

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Landscaping Around Electrical Boxes



I recently read an article in a well known garden magazine that gave several options for landscaping around enclosures for underground distribution systems. I was amazed and dismayed at how little the author had researched the subject from the practicability point of view.


The landscaping did indeed camouflage the box; hiding it from view from every angle. I suspect there are innocent homeowners taking the advice and designs to heart as we speak.


The design methods for totally surrounding the boxes will be a lose-lose situation when there is a maintenance issue in the box.


Lose-lose in these ways:


(1) The box is placed on an easement signed by the property owner and the utility. It is a legally binding contract even if the property owner was prior to your purchase. That easement gives the utility the right to access the equipment for routine and emergency maintenance. If access is blocked, the utility can take what measures are necessary to bring equipment and manpower to the site in a safe manner.


(2) For utility workers to gain access to the equipment, your beautiful (and probably expensive) landscaping could be destroyed. A worker will need to have room to maneuver and work on the equipment without being put in an unsafe position. If the work requires other equipment (truck, backhoe, etc.) the probability of more damage to landscaping is high.
The utility and it's employees do not want to damage your property. It is bad for customer relations, it places them in a safety hazard and it prolongs the time needed to do the job. There is also the cost for the homeowner for damages.
Some homeowners don't realize these boxes need routine maintenance to keep the electrical systems running without problems. Others believe underground systems are problem free. Some customers believe the utility can't be on their property even to access the utility's equipment, especially, if there are no outages. There's a lot of misinformation floating around.




Think this through:


You want to have dependable and continuous electric service. To have this reliable service, expect the utility to do their job.


  • Before landscaping, call the utility and ask if they can direct you on how they will access the equipment, from what direction, and how much room they will need.
  • Do not put landscaping plants, fences, borders, rocks, decorations and other blocking material around the entire unit.
  • NEVER open, paint, damage, hang or sit things on a piece of electric or gas equipment.
  • NEVER NEVER let children play on electric or gas equipment.
  • None of this is the punish or infringe upon the customer's landscaping or beautification plans.
  • It is all about safety and reliability for the utility workers and for their customers.
  • Horror Stories:
  • Children taking hammers and pointed objects to put holes in the boxes. Seriously, there is energized equipment in those boxes - that's why there is the box over them.
  • 6 foot chain link fence totally around the box. Seriously, this fence was cut and removed in a not so beautiful manner during an emergency situation.
  • Large bushes, a tree, and many perennials totally surrounding the box. Seriously, one whole site was flattened when an equipment failure necessitated removal and replacement.
  • The entire right of way access from the road had been blocked by many homeowners on the block. This easement is much like an alleyway. Seriously, the fences, landscaping and a shed had to be removed at the owners' expense when a large truck and a crane were needed for heavy repairs.
There are ways to hide this equipment, it just needs some planning before things are put in place. For instance, use landscaping at a safe distance from the electrical equipment. Situate between your views and the objects. Behind the landscaping, let there be an area of grass or other low plants that do not require much effort and will allow utility access.


Turn the situation from lose-lose into win-win.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Belly Button Lint


Images: Possible dryer lint collection piece and an extra large clothes dryer.




One of my favorite composting materials is dryer lint. Yes, I was kidding about the belly button lint. . . If you don't already save the dryer lint for hobbies, such as paper making, now is the time to start!


Keep a container in your laundry room and after each dryer load, collect the lint and deposit in the container. I have a new flower bed outside one window and simply throw the lint outside after each load.


It serves three purposes: It decomposes in the soil, does not end up in the trash AND it is a great nesting material for birds. Typically, birds prefer dryer lint that doesn't have excessive amounts of fragrant water softeners or dryer sheets used.


There is always the additional benefit that a dryer works better and cheaper if the lint collector is cleaned after each load - saving money and wear and tear on the machine. It cuts down on the risk of dryer fires from a collection of lint in the exhaust hose.


The lint can simply be tossed on the top of the soil or if you don't like the look, it can be immediately tilled into the soil. It will seldom blow around because it absorbs moisture quickly.


I don't recommend putting it directly against plant trunks and stems as it makes too good of a mouse nest in the winter. If mice house directly against bark, they tend to chew on the plant when winter gets really cold and food is scarce.


I tried using an onion sack for my lint and hanging it from the clothesline for the birds to take in the spring but my birds refused. When placed randomly on the ground, they would sometimes clean it up in one day.

~________________~

Since brushing pets is somewhat messy in the winter, I find if I toss the pet hair in the same way as dryer lint, it also provides the same benefits to the soil and birds.


I've seen many a nest lined in a smooth cushion of pet hair. They do seem to like the dog hair better than cat hair but that might be a "scent of predator" issue. Still, the nutrients in both pet and human hair are beneficial to the soil.

~________________~

Find a perfect container for your dryer lint and pet hair: Mesh onion sacks, coffee cans, decorative tins, antique clothespin holder, or let your imagination find a choice. It's another little way we can help use what we once sent to the landfill.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dig It Man



Image: Old electric overhead lines in downtown Galva, Illinois.


From years of working at a public gas and electric utility, I've heard all the complaints about utility tree trimming practices.


A good portion of the problem stems from the public's lack of knowledge on exactly how and why tree trimming is done. I thought a short summary might help gardeners make better decisions around the yard.

Myth Buster:
No one sits behind a desk and says, "Now let's see how we can trim trees to make our customers unhappy and the trees ugly." Really! I've never known one forestry man or arborist that doesn't appreciate and admire healthy trees. They are dedicated to preserving and enhancing trees where possible and suitable.

Tree trimming is performed for one major reason: To prevent electrical situations/outages that can hurt or destroy humans and property.

  • Outages affect the reliability of service to customers and is monitored and regulated by both the utility and the state's Commerce Commission.
  • Utilities follow the National Arbor Society guidelines for tree trimming.
  • Outages and damages are not only difficult for our customers but they cost the company a lot of money during the restoration process. That goes back to the cost to operate the utility which in turn will eventually affect the cost of the product you buy.
  • Trees planted on easements and city right-of-ways can be trimmed or removed by the easement holder. They do not NEED your permission because the original easement has granted that permission.

What you can do:
  • Do not ever plant a tree under or close to an overhead electric line that has any chance to grow near or into the lines.
  • Consider having large old trees replaced with a more appropriate sized tree.

You can expect your tree to be trimmed or removed if:
  • A tree can be climbed by a person and that will put him/her in a position to touch a line.
  • A tree/branch is in a position that if it falls, it will damage the line.
  • A branch will rub an electric line which can burn, damage, or energize the tree.
  • Prevents access to the lines when they need maintenance or repairs.
  • A tree is damaged or rotten.

Story #1:

An entire line of beautiful big fir trees bordering the front of a country property had the tops removed by the utility. It was unsightly and the homeowners and public were very upset.

Step back in time and another story is of a beautiful fir tree that was situated under the electric lines which had not been trimmed. A child climbed that tree and was killed when he touched a branch that had become energized because it was touching the line.

That child can never be replaced nor can the sorrow be eliminated to his loved ones. What can and did happen was a stricter tree trimming policy was implemented. That was the policy that mandated the entire line of fir trees must now be topped.

Story #2:

When a small town was hit by high straight line winds, many of the beautiful old trees lining the streets were toppled along with trees and branches on personal property.

Those trees were a source of pride for the community and there was much sadness at the loss. Most of those large growing trees were planted prior to customers realizing the outage ramifications some fifty plus years later.

The restoration of electric service to this community took much longer because of the need to cut and remove trees and branches. It was also prolonged because of the extensive number of outages due to tree damage. Many homeowners had to hire electricians to fix damage to their customer-owned services. In other words, homes were without power for a much longer time because of damage from large trees and the cost to the customers and utility were much higher.

This city now mandates only low growing trees be planted on municipal right-of-ways. Low growing trees can still be damaged by high winds but they will not cause prolonged electric outages and expense for you or an entire community.

These are but two of the many many examples I could give. I hope that you consider the needs of your electric utility when you plant trees, bushes and vines. If unsure of the guidelines, call them. Or, if you have underground electric, gas, water, telephone or cable services call JULIE (both in the yellow pages.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Knitting Those Little Sweaters


Image: American Tree Sparrow.
Providing shelter for birds is another hobby many take seriously.

In nature, here are birds' winter habitats:

  • Bobwhites sleep in a tight circle on the ground, all heads facing outward. The contact enables them to conserve precious body heat, and the outward orientation allows them to detect danger in all directions. Leaving long weeds and grasses helps insure a warm nest.
  • Crows and turkeys roost in trees.
  • Some birds will build winter roosts in open chimneys.
  • Starlings and Pigeons often roost under brides or other infrastructure. In rural areas, old barns and sheds often have enough holes to allow birds shelter.
  • When there's lots of snow cover, ruffed grouse sometimes bury themselves in snow drifts, where the snow itself insulates them from plummeting outside air temperatures.
  • Owls sleep in tree cavities and sometimes in large nesting boxes.
  • Song birds, such as cardinals, blue jays and finches, retire to dense thickets of vegetation. Even greater protection is found in evergreen refuges such as conifers and ivy covered walls.
  • Woodpeckers, wrens, titmice and nuthatches sleep in cavities much like the ones in which they nest.
  • Sparrows use thick vegetation, vines next to houses or available roof spaces. Some small birds will wedge between the bark and tree trunk.
  • Even solitary birds will often sleep in large communities to keep warm.
A bird's first line of defense against the cold is its feathers. They repel water and insulate. Each feather is controlled by a group of small muscles that can raise and lower the feather.

By fluffing their feathers, birds create many tiny air spaces that drastically reduce heat loss. On extremely cold nights, birds reduce heat loss further by burying naked body parts into their feathers.

Birds have a network of blood vessels in their feet and legs that minimizes heat loss.

Two or more days without energy food, in severe weather, and a bird will not survive.

In the fall, birds often build nests in nesting bird houses. They have decided to prepare it for cold night roosting. Birds will often pack these little houses although they aren't ideal.

Nesting boxes (bird houses) are where birds lay eggs and raise their broods. They are made for a family.

Roosting boxes are for winter shelter and warmth. They are made for a community.

Many man-made roosting boxes are sold commercially. Do not waste your money on those cute little woven homes - they don't conserve heat or shelter from rain.

Real roosting boxes are rather large wooden structures with perches, grooves or shelves inside. They will accommodate a large number of birds. The perches and shelves keep them from smothering the ones on the bottom. There are few or not vent holes at the top and the entrance is near the bottom so body warmth doesn't escape. When hanging the roost, face the opening south and shelter from the wind. Hang about 12 feet off the ground.

The same birds that nest in cavities and nesting boxes will use roosting boxes. One blueprint source for roosting boxes is http://allaboutbirds.org/

"Poor indeed is the garden in which birds find no homes." Rev. Abram L. Urban, author.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eco Friendly Weddings


Step One: In the "what wonderful thing shall we throw as the bridal couple leaves the church" discussion is: Check to see what the facility allows.

Step Two: If you use something that isn't biodegradable, you must have someone(s) pick it all up. A time consuming and no fun job that could loose you a friend and make relatives wish they weren't.

Below is a list of things that have been thrown and some thoughts for you to consider.

Rice has been a custom since back when it was meant to give the couple good luck with their crops and provide longevity. The debate about it making birds explode has "opinions" and "facts" on both sides. The real fact is in this "litigation happy" world in which we live, rice might cause people to slip and fall down steps or on hard surfaces and most churches and reception halls have banned it's use.

EcoFetti is a brand name for environmentally friendly confetti. It comes in several colors and resembles old fashion artificial snow. It will melt away (so they claim) in the first rain or may be hosed away. I don't know if it stains clothes.

Dried lavender buds don't sting if they hit the couple and they smell wonderful. You may still have to pick them up if there is a large quantity.

Rose petals can often be bought from florists and if you agree to use "seconds", the charge is much less. Rose petals can also be freeze dried. If it's raining/snowing, the colors might stain a wedding dress.

Butterfly releases are expensive plus the butterflies are often not ready to fly and throwing lots of insects that immediately drop to the ground and then are trampled is just wrong.

Bubbles is the new rice because it has been used quite a lot recently. Some wedding guests simply refuse to do this, some aren't very effective but if you have a crowd that is willing, it can be pretty. It doesn't work well on windy days and it may stain the material on the wedding dresses.

Seeds sometimes are an alternative to rice. Bird seed, grass seed, pumpkin seeds have all been used. They can also cause slips and as with rice, can get stuck in the brides elegant hairdo, down her dress and undergarments and make a miserable bride at the reception.

Doves being released is another beautiful Hollywood idea that might have a bad outcome in real play. Domesticated white doves are not always adaptable to all habitat and would find it difficult to survive especially if it is already cold outside.

Noisemakers such as kazoos and whistles can be fun if you have a crowd that likes to make noise. Obviously, you don't throw them, you play them. They can also be a memento of the day.

Streamers on sticks is visually pretty and can be waved instead of actually throwing things. Wooden dowel rods with ribbons on the ends can be handed out as guests are leaving the church. A friend can gather them or you can have guests take them to the reception and then home. The ribbons can be in the wedding colors. Realize young children will eventually use them as swords.

Helium balloons in the wedding colors can be released but there is the environmental debate as to the damage it does to animals/birds/and as trash once they come down. Also, Mylar balloons should NEVER be released outside as they can get into overhead electrical wire and substations causing outages.

Sparklers at night weddings is said to be beautiful. My concern would be the flammability of some clothes (especially the wedding dress and veil), getting them all lit at once and the disposal afterwards. Children would have to be closely supervised.

Fireworks would certainly be showy at a night wedding. It would involve an experienced and talented (perhaps licensed) person to do this, check to see if you need a permit, and you'd have to consider flammability of the area. Setting a two-hundred year old church on fire might take the zing out of the wedding. Both sparklers and fireworks are against the law in California (and perhaps other areas.)

LED lights also are fun if waved by the guests at a night wedding. They can be a memento for them to take home and are safe for children. Cost might be an issue but there are little ones on key chains and they come in many colors.

Little bells can also be a memento and there is the wedding reception game that every time someone rings their bell, the bridal couple must kiss. Some couples have their names and the wedding date engraved on each bell.

Dollar bills could be thrown but would need to be picked up by someone who would return them to the couple and it would take some planning to accomplish this little trick. It is a custom in some cultures as is throwing coins.

Dried leaves and herbs would be pretty in the fall and are no big environmental threat. Large quantities would probably need to be swept up.

Maple tree seeds "helicopters" float down slow and softly. They would need to be gathered in the spring and dried.

Some brides have opted to no longer have things thrown because it can get out of hand, sometimes hurts, messes up their hair, can damage their dresses, and is an added expense.

The most novel idea I've heard about is the Redneck wedding where they throw punches. Environmentally friendly as long as they don't draw blood.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Unsuspecting Color



Images of the Ornamental pear tree Pyrus calleryana "Chanticleer"

We often think of maple trees for their beautiful fall colors, but, this ornamental pear stands right up there with the best.


An ornamental fruit tree does not produce actual pears even though it has flowers in the spring. It does produce a very small hard bitter "fruit" which the birds eat.

This five year old tree was a gift from my church in memory of my father. It is from the old "Lafayette Nursery."

The shallow-rooted tree is tolerant of a wide range of soils and this one was planted in what was formally a very compacted gravel driveway. Not the best of conditions although it has never shown any signs of not being perfectly happy.

It is a narrow and tailored tree with multiple leaders, tight branching and needs little pruning. It can measure 25-35 ft by 16-25 ft. It's a fast grower and prefers full sun. For the urban yard, it shows good resistance to pollution and fire blight. For the smaller yard, it doesn't form a shade canopy.

The shiny dark green leaves turn orange/gold or red/purple in the fall. It turns late in the fall and looses it's leaves after most other trees are bare.

I've also planted white Dutch iris and a low growing Japanese blood grass below the tree. I did this right after it was planted so there was no damage to the shallow roots. I, also, keep it mulched.
This tree is considered a three season show - spring: flowers - summer: emerald green leaves - fall: bright colored leaves.

In case you enlarge the fall picture - the tiny blur marks are raindrops. NORAD just announced this area is sixteen plus inches over average rainfall for the year. I'm surprised it's only sixteen. It's fast turning the beautiful corn, soybeans and other fall crops into a huge loss. For those without insurance coverage, it must be frightening times. With those who have insurance, it will only partially help and then only after much proof is submitted. Definitely prayer time in this part of the Bible belt.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tough Little Bird




Image of a White Breasted Nuthatch with a sunflower seed in his beak.

I've been trying to get a photo of this little guy for weeks but he's been too fast and jerky. He flies in for a seed and, most often, immediately flies out.

Nuthatches Sitta carolinensis have a short tail and are about 5 3/4 inches long, have black caps, blue/gray upper over an all-white face and breast. The extent of the rust on it's bottom is variable. Typically they have a large head with little visible neck.

This one has a longer, thinner (but very strong) bill indicating it is more similar to the western Nuthatches. Their song and call are both loud and nasal sounding more insistent than musical.

The Nuthatch will climb up, down and around tree trunks and branches searching for insects or hiding seeds/nuts. Able to hang upside down, they are often confused as a Woodpecker. They have short legs, long toes, and very strong claws.

Nuthatches are commonly found in leafy trees - maples, hickory, basswoods, oaks and conifers. They prefer mature woods and woodland edges. They nest year round in holes and crevices of old trees. They will sometimes smash bugs all around the opening to repel squirrels from taking their nest. The tree cavity is a small cup lined with soft material (usually the hole is made by others).

This Nuthatch typically likes insects, nuts and large meaty seeds found at feeders. They get their name from jamming nuts into tree bark and hatchet them into pieces with their sharp beak. Feeders with sunflowers, peanuts and suet usually will entice them if they are in your area. The choice of eating insect pests (tent caterpillars, flies, grasshoppers, aphids, and others) make it a very beneficial bird.

In the winter Nuthatches flock with finches, chickadees and titmice. They are usually in pairs and mate for life. They stay over a good portion of the United States year round. It is difficult to tell the male from the female as they look very much the same - as do juveniles. Both parents feed the fledglings.

The Nuthatch, in the wild, lives from 2-3.5 years although can be as long as ten. Hawks, owls, squirrels, and woodpeckers are the natural enemies. The House Wren will try to destroy their eggs. Nuthatches will make use of man made winter-time roosts constructed for small birds. They will also nest in man made boxes if placed and constructed correctly.

A Nuthatch is a fun addition to your winter bird feeder - always lively - it never seems to get a case of the "winter blues."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Burn Baby Burn






Images: Euonymus alatus -aka- Burning Bush -aka- Winged Euonymus (Celastracceae Staff-Tree Family) Whew, that's a whole lot of names for this stunning red bush. A native of Northeastern Asia and Central China.

The Burning Bush is an average looking bush most of the year. It's form is rather loose, slow maturing to 4-5 ft. tall and wide for some varieties and 12-15 ft. tall and wide for others.

It prefers moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil in full sun. It is very adaptable to full shade, poor and compacted soil, various soil pHs, heat, drought, periodic shearing, and pollution. In the less ideal places, it will grow less vigorous and the fall color is a mixture of pink-red and faded yellow. Some years, according to the weather, they may not be as showy in the fall.

They should not be planted where they need to be pruned as this will eliminate the fall color. It is rated for Zone 4.

Some nurseries consider varieties of the Burning Bush invasive because it can escape to wooded areas by the seeds being carried by birds. Mine have not.


The tiny spring flowers are usually not noticed but birds do like the resulting berries. The leaves are clear emerald green in the summer.

In the summer, the form, lack of showy flowers make it average. But, and here is a huge BUT, in the fall it outstrips all other bushes and most trees for it's shouting red colored leaves.

Since mine turned red, I can't let a day go by without making sure I look at the beautiful red color. Today, when going into Galva, I saw a home with the entire back fence row of the property lined with Burning Bushes. It was stunning!

This week is definitely the week to take notice of yards with Burning Bushes - I'm betting you hadn't even given these bushes a second glance up until now.

When buying bushes for your yard, think about adding a Burning Bush. Plant as a fence row or an addition to your other beds. I don't really care for them as a lone or specimen plant because they don't hold their own most of the year. They are a bit like a spring flowering lilac bush in that regard. When they are doing "their thing" they are the most important bush in your yard.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Albert Camus (French author, philosopher, and journalist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957)