Friday, June 29, 2012

Around the World

"Around the world I've searched for you
I traveled on when hope was gone
To keep a rendezvous
I knew somewhere, sometime, somehow,
You'd look at me and I would see
That smile you're smil-ing now"

If you recognize this song, then you're not a teenager anymore Mable!  If you remember the movie "Around the World in 80 Days", then you're probably not middle aged!  If you remember Bing Crosby sang it - or if you even know who Bing Crosby was, well let's just say you may be pushing the other side of that hill.

What have I been searching for:  A flowering plant that isn't bothered by drought, deer, and Japanese Beetles.  And here is one for that and so much more!

It's the beautiful and hardy Globe Thistle.  This isn't your roadside thistle that has thorns and every pink bloom throws out seeds.  It's the beautiful blue Echinops ritro "Globe Thistle". 

A European import, this compact perennial has stiff spiny 8 inch leaves casted with silver down.  The flower heads bloom in late summer.  The heads start as a metalic colored blue and in late summer they turn bright blue when each little floret bursts into bloom. 

So friends with difficult soil and conditions, this may be the plant you've searched around the world for and landed on the best spot.

Plant this in well drained soil that has a pH of 6.0-7.5.  Throw a little compost into the hole when planting - especially in moist areas.  Mulch and it needs no other fertilizer.  They do best in soil with a higher mineral count than organic matter.  Hardy to Zone 3.   

They look beautiful in a vase of cut flowers and keep their blue when dried.  The flower heads are just perfect for those wishing for more blue in their gardens.

Plant in full sun; although they tolerate partial shade.  Bothered by few pests or deseases.  Dead head if you really don't want more plants.  If you want to save seeds, plant after the last frost.  Plant where it can stretch to 2-4 foot.  Cut last year's growth  down to about 2 inches in the spring.

If your plant looses its vigor after several years, it's time to divide and/or seed new plants.  Divide in the autumn.   

In bloom, the flowers attract birds, butterflies and bees. They are especially nice at the back of daylilies or other lower perennials.  Planted on a fence line, it forms an attractive accent.  It is considered deer resistant.

There are several different varieties:  pink, purple, dwarf, tall, white and blue.  Most full nurseries carry at least one variety.

If you've searched the world for a plant with these qualities - consider you've just touched down.

Warning:  It is considered invasive in warm climates.  People who have ideal conditions, beware - it can sprout most anywhere and is difficult to eliminate because of the long tap root.  I've had no problems with this although mine is in partial shade and we do get hard winters.    

Friday, June 22, 2012

Planting in the Bible Belt

I come from the middle of the Bible belt:  central Indiana.  I’m reminded of that when I read my local (Greentown, Indiana) newspaper.  The obituaries often start with “the dearly departed went home to be with his/her Lord”.  The list of accomplishments starts with their service to the local church. 

In addition, I’m one of those people who actually enjoy strolling through old cemeteries.  When I go back to the area of my birth, I usually take a side trip to the Hopewell Cemetery.  It’s the final resting place of my Civil War era ancestor’s family.  The country site is now located at the edge of the county’s reservoir, is quite a ways off the road and largely forgotten.  Although the township is charged with its upkeep, it has fallen victim to vandalism and neglect.  It’s a sweet sad place to visit.

The stones have mostly been toppled, broken and many are now in the process of sinking into the ground.  Last time I visited, it was obvious it had become a place for bonfires and parties.  One area was totally burned with the remains of stones charred and broken. 

Because of the total lack of care, the long ago planted flowers have spread and give the cemetery a wild and beautiful park look;  a park look if you don’t have ancestors who’s graves are being disrespected.

I’ve tried to engage interest in cleaning up the cemetery with little results.  I’ve taken photos, written letters, and talked with families of the grave occupants, but, no one is interested in the huge labor intensive project.  My response has been to duplicate some of the plants in my own gardens.  It’s a very small way of paying respect and a reminder of what was once a vital country final resting place for local families.

The three most notable plants I’ve copied are the orange Tiger Lily, yucca and Lily of the Valley.  The lilies spread with abandon and are hardy enough to have lasted over one-hundred years in the cemetery.  In my yard, they have nestled into their beds with comfort and familiarity.

The Orange Tiger Lily is officially called Lilium lancifolium “Splendens” and dates from 1804.  It has 30-36 inch strong stems (called scapes on lilies).  They bend slightly over the graves or other plants but don’t shade. 

The bloom of this lily is bright orange with dark speckles on recurved pendent petals.  The prominent stamens stand out to attract pollinating insects and birds.  The flowers hang down and start blooming first at the bottom of the flower brackets.

Orange lilies are especially suited next to purple or white flowers.  They are a late summer or fall bloomer and good to Zone 3.  Given the right conditions, they will naturalize and be in place long after the gardener “moves on to be with their Lord.” 

I don’t think I know one garden, public or private, that doesn’t have some nostalgia associated with the flowers or design.  It’s a way of remembering something or someone we respect and love.  Consider your heritage as you are planting your gardens and perhaps incorporate a few old favorites.  After all, a garden is meant to be a special place as Gerald DeNerval put so well:  “Each flower is a soul opening out to nature.”

Photos:  These are pictures of Hopewell Cemetery, Howard County, Indiana.  They were taken a couple of years ago.  If you want to see the full screen version, double click on the first photo and you may page through the others.  This works with any of my photos on any article.  The last photo is my ancestor's marker.  The stones laying flat are his family's broken markers.  

There's a whole procedure for restoring an old damaged cemetery; to retain the accuracy of the grave sites and records, to work with old marker materials, knowing what vegetation is original and what has invaded.  Then there is the continuing issue on how to keep it secure and maintained. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Sun Stood Still

Summer solstice means in Latin that the sun stands still.  Your shadow will be the shortest of any time of the year. In many parts of the country, it means the weather is sunny and hot - often humid.

No flower looks more perfect for a summer sun filled day than the aptly named sunflower. 

I haven't planted sunflowers in years - mine are all thanks to birds carrying them.  I feed black sunflower seeds in the shell all year.  There are many MANY beautiful hybrid sunflower seeds on the market:  Tall and short - yellow, red, orange and cream and more.  Some hybrids are short on seeds and long on pretty.  

Have a great summer solstice - it's a day we gardeners celebrate!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why? Why? Why?

Let me start with the statement:  Some daylilies are so reliable they always look perfect.  With that said, some have particular needs and eccentricities causing them to look different than you expected when you saw them at the nursery or in a catalog.

Here are a few of the whys:

The nutrients in the soil may alter the flower size and color, the height of the scapes, the bud count and the size of the clump.

How many years the plant is in your garden may influence the flower size and color.  If it's the first full year your plant has been in the garden (in one place), don't expect it to be perfect.  A clump that's been in the ground (and expanding) for many years may stop producing many flowers because it needs divided.

Bloom time usually has an influence on the flowers.  The first blooms of the year may be the least beautiful.  Plants that re bloom may have less stellar flowers on the second batch.  Continuous bloomers may have a short period where they need a rest before starting again.

Seasonal weather can have a huge impact on the flowers.  A mild winter (with no late freezes) will show optimal flowers.  Late freezes will damage the leaves but probably not the flowers.  A short summer may prevent re blooming. 

Moisture can help and hurt daylilies.  Your daylilies may loose buds (prior to blooming) if your area is in the middle of a drought.  The roots (rhizomes) may rot if they sit in water anytime, but, especially during the winter.  They need regular moisture in well drained soil. 

The amount of light they receive may alter the bloom look, the production and clump size.  Some daylilies do well in partial shade.  In the hot south, most need afternoon shade.  Others may produce only a few scapes and blooms in the shade. 

Varmints may decide the rhizomes are the next best thing to chocolate pudding and make them their winter meals.  If you have a daylily totally disappear over winter, chances are it's a vole, mole, mice or deer issue.  Assuming it's been healthy prior to this.

Lots of Rain and wind can damage some blooms every time.  Wind will normally break the petals of the long loopy spiders and some other large petal blooms.  Some daylilies can have a strong shower and simply look stunning.  Others, will water spot or become mushy.  Most dark red and purple lilies will not hold up to a big downpour. 

Insects can really do a nasty number on daylily flowers.  It isn't the color because I've had the very same colored lilies with one having damage and the other perfect.  Earwigs and Japanese Beetles will eat the color off some flowers once bloomed.  Earwigs may also eat on the buds causing them to open with damage or to be disfigured.  Flower thrips, spider mites and aphids will strip the buds, suck sap from petals and may damage the foliage.  They are very tiny but they can kill a plant if infestation is large.  Slugs and snails may munch on spring foliage.  All can be controlled without using insecticides.   

Diseases are few, but, there's a surge of leaf streak in this area (sometimes called daylily rust).  It's a fungus that can be controlled the fungicide thiophanate-methyl  and without control, leaf streak will infect all surrounding healthy plants.

Some daylilies may be labeled the same name, but, I've found the ones purchased from big reputable daylily dealers to be the most consistent.  Most daylilies from big box or other discount places may be labeled a certain name but often they are a little or a lot different.  Buying from an ebay or other individual seller ,where you've never seen their gardens, may produce varied products.     

The last and totally the most unscientific: daylilies have a mind of their own (so to speak).  You may never know why one year is different from the next.  Unless it's a disease or a preventable issue, go with the flow and figure you have two plants for the price of one.

The photos in this article are of "Designer Gown".  The flowers look different at different times.  There are gardeners who become really upset if a daylily doesn't have consistent everything.  Any gardener who has paid a premium for a specific daylily will be upset.

Starting at the top: 
A pale lavender pink with light purple eyezone and edges.  Chartreuse green to yellow eye.
A pale flesh tone with a light wine colored eyezone and no edge coloring.  Eye remains the same.
A true pink with a rose eyezone and edges.  Eye remains the same.
A deep peach with a dark rose eyezone and edges with an eye of mostly yellow.
Last is a lavender with purple edges and eyezone and mostly green eye. 

I go with the flow on "Designer Gown" because it is beautiful 6 inch flower that always impresses.  It is dusted with pearl and looks like a Victorian garden party dress.     


Designer Gown facts:  24-36” scapes. Diurnal, mid season, Tetraploid, Dormant, No fragrance, increases. Doesn‘t look good after a heavy rain.
Honorable Mention Award.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Daylily Pretties

We've been so busy I've neglected writing.  Here are a few of the daylilies blooming in the garden.  All are about twenty days ahead of normal with a few more than a month early.  With the mild winter, all are robust.  The leaves of most are a little ugly because they were up when we got our last heavy frosts. 

This is "Blushing Summer Valentine" introduced by Salter in 2000.  The blooms are 5 inches, light buff pink with a large vivid burgundy maroon eyezone and matching edge.  It has a yellow eye.  The petals are rounded and the sepals are sometimes curled.  It's very substantial and our high winds haven't caused damage.  Stands on 24" scapes.  Considered an early season bloomer plus it can rebloom.  Semi evergreen.  It won the All American Award in the exhibition category in 2008.  

This is "Midsummer Elegance" introduced by Carpenter in 1992. 
5 ½” royal purple self with green throat. Rich wide overlapped petals. 20” scapes. Late season and re bloom. Dormant, diploid.  As you can see, it is velvet with slightly ruffled edges.  This is the first time this one has bloomed and it's stunning.

"Party Queen" started blooming today.  Doesn't it make you want to go fix a orange crush? 
Introduced by Peck in 1980, it has 6” vibrant coral/apricot self with bright eye. Very ruffled. 24” scapes. Mid season, dormant, Tetraploid, no fragrance.  It received Honorable Mention in 1985.

That's it for tonight.  Happy daylilies to you!

(Yes, the fonts are funky tonight - it's only the most obvious of the odd things blogspot was doing tonight...I'm getting out of here before it stops!)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Simply Superlative

"Superlative" daylily is aptly named. 
Hybridized by Gates in 1975, it's been a show stopper ever since. 

Superlative received the "Award of Merit".  Presented by the American Hemerocallis Society, to signify that a daylily cultivar is not only distinctive and beautiful, but has also proved good performance over a wide geographic area.  It is made each year to only ten daylily cultivars.  The Cultivar must have received the AHS Honorable Mention Award no less than three years previously.  Pretty well deserved!

Superlative is a six inch bloom of deep true red velvet with a gold eye zone.  The gold eyezone will often extend into the midribs.  24 to 34 inch scapes over medium green leaves.  Both the blooms and the scapes are very substantial.  The petals and sepals are somewhat ruffled and it's somewhat fragrant.  It's an early bloomer and continues to re bloom over a long period.  Because it has a high bud count, it produces a big show during bloom time.  Unless it's really a dark day, it always opens fully. 

It's considered semi-evergreen and is a Tetraploid.  It's very hardy here in Zone 5 and clump size increases easily.  I've divided, given to friends and planted starts in several places.
Does it have a negative?  The only one I'm aware of is, like most red daylilies, the hot sun can make the velvet a slick sheen (below left).  If you're picking, it best to do it early in the morning on hot sunny days.  It is seldom bothered by insects.  If there is a hard rain, it may water spot. It suffers less damage from wind than most large daylilies.

It looks good both as a specimen plant and in a mass grouping.  It will highlight gold and white daylilies as-well-as annuals and perennials of those colors.  I bought my Superlative from Oakes Daylilies in 2006 for $10.00.  Considering the number of plants I've divided out of it, it's been a cheap buy. 

As you may realize, it's one of the flowers that calls for it's picture to be taken all bloom season.  The flower on the lace cloth was picked this afternoon after being beat up by gusty winds and high temperatures.  Flowers do not need water to survive being picked.  Since they only last a day, placing anywhere will work.  Do remember to throw them out at nightfall or they will wilt and stain.

This plant is available from many retailers.  Prices vary - as does clump(s) size.  All-in-all it's what I call "Superlative"!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Passionville USA

My first garden article was about daylilies and they haven't stopped being my passion.  It’s a passion that is just now opening into bloom time.

Although there are gardeners who have special talents beyond mine and the desire to raise more difficult and quirky plants, I love the simple beauty of daylilies.

It’s like the friend we love because they loved us first.  They make it easy.  Add to its many attributes the daylily’s beauty and it’s a home run to Passionville USA.

Check out this youtube video from the American Hemerocallis Association and you’ll understand I’m not alone residing in this daylily village:

Like a teenage girl in her first shoe shop, I can run from plant to plant wanting them all.  The traditional, the new design, the funky, and the lovely – I’m wanting at least one of each.  Cut down more trees to give them sunlight, dig up lawn to enlarge beds, squeeze in another plant under the tomatoes and don’t even think of letting me near Hornbaker Nursery in Princeton during peak bloom time.

For a beginning gardener, nothing could be easier and more gratifying than your first daylily plant.  Follow the simple planting instruction and you’ll have a lifetime of beauty year after year.  The cost of many daylilies is under $5.  The cost of the newly hybridized is getting close to $300.   Whether you shop off the rack at a big box store, visit your local nurseries or want the extended variety of on-line shopping, it’s there for the novice and the experienced.

And like a shoe addict, there is always a new daylily being hybridized and registered.  You can build your excuses for getting a new lily like sequins on a pair of platform pumps.  Colors, color variations and designs, forms, sizes, heights, cute little edges – daylilies have it all.

Daylilies can be moved often.  They often increase clump size and can be divided easily and moved to new locations, given to friends or sell as a little side industry.  It’s a plant that keeps on giving. 

Daylilies can be hybridized by the everyday gardener and is an excellent way to start your own varieties.  We’ve had some pretty awesome daylily gardeners in this very area:  Rolly Krause has been hybridizing daylilies and hosta for years.  The late Frank Conway’s daylily field was awesome in number and variety.

Be it the common Stella-de-oro or a new Jamie Gossard variety; join the bus trip to Passionville USA.  I guarantee it will be a great ride!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Presence of Silk

The Missouri Botanical Gardens is having a double whammy in their Jenkins’ Daylily Garden.  The daylilies are starting their bloom season and there is a large Lantern Festival in the many botanical gardens.

It's not just daylilies; there are over 2,000 varieties.  It's not just lanterns, it's an international exhibition of larger-than-life, lighted works of art from China. 

The web page has this information and photos:

"May 29, 2012 - August 19, 2012
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
6 to 10 p.m. Thursday—Sunday evenings, May 31—July 29
6 to 10 p.m. seven nights a week, August 1—19
(last entry at 9 p.m.)

Experience one of China’s most treasured events and ancient traditions – the annual lantern festival. Elaborate outdoor sets crafted of silk and steel will celebrate Chinese culture through bold color, dazzling light and striking design. The exhibition offers visitors a unique opportunity to witness a spectacle rarely staged outside of Asia. View the art by day or experience the illuminated magic by night.  Lanterns are lit at 8 p.m."

Take good walking shoes, your camera, $22 a person for non-members, and the leisurely attitude the garden offers.  Silk!  Daylilies!  Wow!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ferry Morse Seed RIP

The 53-year-old Ferry Morse Seed Factory in Fulton, Kentucky that started sending seeds in the mail seven generations ago hand-delivered a letter to nearly 200 factory workers just after lunch. It stated their position was terminated, effective immediately.  Jiffy Products owned and operated the factory. But now, Massachusetts-based Plantation Products owns the home and garden division of Jiffy, and in turn, owns Ferry Morse.  The parent company Jiffy is based in Norway. The Jiffy brand is traded in the professional grower business and at retail.  In Canada the company operates under the brands of McKenzie and McFayden.

Indiana state officials were notified May 18 that Ferry-Morse Seed Co. was bought out by Seed Holdings and will close its operations across the country, including a distribution center in Fremont IN that at one time employed up to 50 people.

Ferry-Morse's White City, Oregon garden seed distribution center will close by the end of the year.  It is unknown if the Macon GA plant closed.

According to local news reports, most of the facilities had used enterprise zones, which offered a property tax abatement and other financial incentives to the company.  It's now in question if the hundreds of thousands of dollars invested through these means is lost.  Local towns and the states may be left holding the bag (an empty one), along with empty buildings and most importantly lost jobs. 

Seed Holdings released this statement May 30, 2012:

Seed Holdings Inc. and Jiffy International announced today the successful completion of a transaction in which Seed Holdings has acquired from Jiffy International substantially all of the assets of Ferry-Morse Seed CoSimultaneously, Jiffy has taken a majority shareholding in Seed Holdings. The transaction also included the acquisition of A.E. McKenzie Inc. of Canada.

 Seed Holdings is the shareholder of Plantation Products LLC, a merchandiser of flower and vegetable seed packets and the owner of the Home Gardening brands NK Lawn & Garden, American Seeds, Fredonia and Plantation Products.

 Today’s news release about the acquisition of Ferry- Morse Seed Co. affects the company’s plant in Fulton KY, but there were no specific details in the news release about the future of the local plant.
Ferry-Morse was founded in 1856 and is one of the leaders in the U.S. market for consumer seed packets.

 “It is expected that the combination of the three companies will create significant synergies including optimized logistic solutions and exciting product development,”

Seeds Holdings Inc in Laurel, MD (headquartered in Norton MA in the current location of Plantation LLC) is a private company categorized under Fruits and Vegetables-Growers and Shippers.  Records show it was established in 2011 and incorporated in Maryland.  Seed Holdings is also the shareholder of Plantation Produce LLC, a merchandiser of flower and seed vegetable packets, the owner of several home gardening brands:  American Seeds, Fredonia, Plantation Products and NK Lawn and Garden.  Ferry Morse and McKenzie include the Green Arbor, Lilly Miller, McGayden and Pike Seed brands.  Both companies will be marketing seed starting products from Jiffy:  Jiffy-7, Jiffypot and Jiffy-Mix.  The new company will continue to sell under the Jiffy brand and may launch additional lawn and garden products under the Jiffy brand. 

Jiffy International AS produces and supplies plant propagation products and containerized substrates to professional growers. The company has manufacturing plants in Holland, Norway, Denmark, Spain, the United States, Canada, and Sri Lanka. Jiffy International AS was incorporated in 1977 and is based in Kristiansand, Norway with sales offices in United Kingdom, Germany, Kenya, and France. Jiffy International AS operates as a subsidiary of Johan G. Olsen Shipbrokers A/S.

Johan G. Olsen Shipbrokers A/S provides ship broking services to ship owners, charterers, and operators in Norway and internationally. It engages in contracting, selling, purchasing, and chartering offshore supply vessels, drilling rigs, and specialized ships. The company was founded in 1912 and is headquartered in Kristiansand, Norway. As of June 30, 2006, Johan G. Olsen Shipbrokers A/S operates as a subsidiary of Pareto AS.

In 2006 the Pareto group bought all the shares in Johan G. Olsen Shipbrokers AS.  The Pareto group is one of the leading players in the Norwegian financial services market. The company was established in 1986.  Pareto offers a broad range of brokerage services related to equity, debt and partnership units, including management of new issues.  The company has offices in Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, Kristiansand, Bryne, Tønsberg, Stockholm, Malmø, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore and New York.   A quote from their web page:  "We demand responsibility, integrity and a high ethical standard of our employees. Pareto is an independent operator and our aim is that our approach should always be innovative, creative and different."

I don't often do investigative reporting - mostly I'm happy to talk garden.  In this case, when I first read about the closing of the Ferry Morse Seed factory in Kentucky and how it was done, something sounded fishy.  The old saying "If it smells like fish, it's usually a fish" rather loosely applied to "If it sounds fishy, it's usually fishy."  That "fish" apparently resides in Norway.

Without knowing the reasoning (and it might be logical and good business - or not) it appears Pareto doesn't demand responsibility, integrity and high ethical standards when acquiring other companies.  To close a business with "Surprise!  Hope you had a good lunch, now go home and never come back." and "Sorry your tax payers' cash is lost but not my problem." seems to contrast their own words.

The photos are old Ferry catalog covers.   

Ferry Morse Seed Company was, at one time, the largest seed producing company of its kind in the world.  It is yet another garden seed company that has either closed, been acquired by a non-garden entity, or watered down to the point it is only a shell as far as products.  I could go into a whole speech about:  "This is the outcome of foreign ownership and their lack of care for the products, employees, US tax payers and customers." but, I think this series of events tells that story in a full way. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Garden Walks 2012

The Galva Arts Council, Galva IL will hold a garden walk June 30 - 10 AM - 2 PM.  Tickets ($6) sold that day at the Arts Council Building for five gardens from Galva to Bishop Hill.  Refreshments will be available at the GAC after 9:30 am. 

The Council of Rockford Gardeners, Inc. is hosting their Annual FREE garden walk featuring many beautiful gardens in the Rockford area on June 20, 2012 from noon to 8 pm. This is a ‘rain or shine’ event. Gardening and gardens of every variety: eclectic, traditional, country, old world, and containers, vegetables, herbs, grasses, perennials, and hostas, water features, statuary, garden art, and koi ponds, and large, small, sun, shade, new and old.  Rockford IL.

The Campaign County University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners will host their annual Garden Walk in Champaign and Urbana on June 23, 2012 - 9 AM to 4 PM.  Rain or Shine.  Ticket day of walk $12 and available at the UofI Ext. Office, 801 N. Country Fair Dr., Champaign and local garden centers.

The DeKalb County UofI Extension Master Gardeners Garden Walk and Plant Sale July 14, 2012 - 9 AM to 4 PM.  Features 8 gardens and big plant sale, garden boutique & Master Gardener help desk.  Tickets are $12 the day of the event.  Call 815-758-8194 for more info.

Illinois State Flower Show 2012 called "Night and Day" will be June 8, 9, 2012 at Lincoln Square Village, Urbana, Illinois.

Sunrise Ottawa IL Rotary Garden Walk will be June 24, 2012 - 1-4 PM at the Reddick Mansion, complete with charming vignettes and costumed docents.

Princeton IL Tourism announced June 9, 2012 from 9am-2pm is a county wide garden walk featuring wonderful gardens and a work shop at Hornbaker Gardens. More details to come on their facebook page. 

The Chicago area has multiple garden walks.  Google Illinois Garden Walks 2012 if you're interested in a little travel to view gardens in historic neighborhoods.   

An interesting side note:  Native Plant Patch program is designed to teach Girl Scouts about native plants in their area. Scouts at all age levels are eligible to earn the patch. This promotes girl-to-adult and girl-to-girl discussion by partnering National Garden Club with the Scouts.