Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kimmswick Daylily Sale

Kimmswick Dayliy Garden
The garden on the south side of my house has been covered with roofing felt for the last year. I had grown irises in this garden for over ten years, but the plants had become overgrown with invasive Burmuda grass (Cynodon dactylon). I do not use poisons, so aside from futilely pulling the grass or fantasizing about more drastic measures involving fire, I was stuck. Eventually, I decided to dig up all the irises and replant them throughout my other gardens, then tacking down roofing felt to light deprive & hopefully, kill the Burmuda grass.

I've had a whole year to consider what I will plant to fill in this garden and decided daylillies would be the best choice. Daylillies (hemerocallis) grow in thick bunches, have lovely blooms, are minimal care and important to my Burmuda grass battle, shade the ground. Burmuda grass once established, can never be eradicated by non-chemical means, so I decided to pursue the easiest option, hence daylilies.

Mr. Carrol Wrather
Kimmswick has an Annual Daylily Sale as a fundraiser for their Visitors Center. The master gardener who grows all the magnificent daylilies is Mr. Carrol Wrather, and his gardens are a delightful experience. It is amazing how many different varieties he has planted in his garden! The sale has both hundreds of labeled bare root plants available, for those who can wait until next season for blooms or Carrol and his helpers will dig the specimen of your choosing. An additional treat is that Carrol is willing to freely impart his wisdom regarding daylily care. I got a wonderful garden tour, some helpful daylily tips and a lesson on composting. I toted home 20 bare root daylilies  and planted them all!

My son and I broke up the dry, dry, dry clay left below the removed roofing felt in my southside garden---pick axe mandatory, then added a soil mixture of these components:  4-40 lb. bags of topsoil, 2-40 lb. bags of cow manure compost and 2 bags of mushroom compost. It was hard work, but will benefit the newly planted daylilies and the central small shrub, Ninebark, now planted in this southern exposure garden.  Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is a Missouri Native shrub, which will add seasonal flowers to support both pollinators and nesting birds.

There was only one nursery in Missouri that had this shrub available, so my road trip to Kimmswick morphed into a garden trek to the outskirts of Jefferson City to visit the Missouri Wildflower Nursery. See their website here http://mowildflowers.net/ They have a WONDERFUL free catalog loaded with pictures, categorized by plant sun and soil requirements, along with a helpful star rating appraising plant culture. My 2 gallon potted Ninebark was very reasonably priced, approximately a foot and a half tall and not pot bound. I am pleased to have found this Native plant nursery, as I continue to work to naturalize my yard and gardens. Next Spring should be exciting!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


I just received my Humane Backyard sign from the Humane Society! It was a donation premium with an associated pledge to provide:

1.) Natural sources of food for wildlife, including native plants.

2.) Water for wildlife through natural or manmade sources.

3.) Shelter and safe places for animals to raise their young.

4.) Avoid the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.

5.) Be aware of the harm free-roaming pets can inflict upon wildlife, and take steps to ensure that   my companion animals will not pose threats to wild animals.

6.) Use humane, nonlethal approaches for resolving any conflicts with wildlife.

This 12" x 12" metal sign is going to be posted in my more visible front yard, in hopes it will inspire my neighbors to participate.  Perhaps it will also notify the city inspectors that those "weeds" I occasionally get cited for are important plant resources for pollinators, birds and other wildlife. Regardless, I am thrilled to be part of this program as I continue to shrink my lawn by planting supportive habitat.

I found this program through the library... I read, The Humane Gardener, by Nancy Lawson, which is an excellent resource for beginning to experienced gardeners. Everyone can do a little to support our natural environment, see:  www.humanebackyard.org  Also included in the package are some helpful info sheets & a pair of gardening gloves.

Monday, June 19, 2017

More rain

I am not complaining at all, I love rain! We have had some hot temperatures, so my rain barrels were getting low. Natural rain is much more effective and beneficial to the plants than my hand watering, because I realize I probably don't water long enough, nor deep enough with my watering can. The gardens are looking marvelous! I got some "wet" pictures this morning after a thunderstorm last night. The daylilies and gladiolas look doubly pretty with raindrops on their petals. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Leafy Harvest

The lettuce table has produced enough greens to create a salad bowl for three! Well our three, which actually means second servings. A little spinach, mesclun and leaf lettuce, all very tender and flavorful. I added some store bought tomatoes, mini cucumbers, mushrooms and feta making a lovely light meal.

This year I covered the lettuce table with the remains of a broken matchstick blind attached with pipe cleaners onto halved steel wreath rings. A good reuse of leftover household junk. Anyway, it has worked wonders keeping the lettuces from bolting, even with our week of 90+F heat. As I have said before, gardening is an ongoing experiment and over time you figure out solutions to previous season's failures.

Monday, June 12, 2017

What has happened?

The photo of my orange butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and blue speedwell (Veronica spicata) look lovely together,  but this is not a complete picture of nature in action. It's a sunny, hot 95F/35C mid afternoon, perfect for nectar gathering, but there are no bees!

I am very concerned; looking around the garden there are no carpenter bees, mason bees, or European honey bees, only a few tiny Missouri bees and two Japanese beetles. My organic garden is bee-less, and I see none in my clover filled lawn either.

Another absence I have noted are the American goldfinches and House Finches. Normally, they are eating thistle seed from the sock feeder and I am filling it weekly. I have seen only one pair of American goldfinches briefly, and a single house finch. I have watched these birds for years and they are big eaters, usually lining up on nearby bushes to get their opportunity to eat at the sock feeder, but this year there are NONE! My feeder is still full from when I hung it out in May.

Two blocks from here an 88acre green space was leveled, topsoil scraped off, a creek rerouted underground into culverts, along with all the mature and dead trees removed, cut down and dug out. Literally the site was stripped, no more osage orange trees, turtles, or fox... making way for huge development of $250,000-&500,000 homes with sterile sodded lots and non-diverse sapling plantings. I am sure that this loss of local habitat has contributed to the noticeable loss of wildlife. Bees nest in dead trees, or underground and destruction of these environments reduce the priceless biodiversity within a community. I have no answer to give to city governments who justify this development as a way to increase their tax base to benefit citizens, myself included.  Yet, I am at a loss as to how to rebound from the elimination of this diverse ecosystem, that also benefited citizens. I have planted gardens to feed and support the bees, birds and butterflies, but if they do not come to my garden table to dine, maybe I have done nothing at all to help preserve them.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Environment is in Our Hands

As I walk outside in my personal garden environment, I hope that the changes I have wrought are a benefit to my yard, and in a small way promote a healthy ecology. I try to fend off fungus & plant bugs with Neem oil, and fertilize with fish emulsion and compost. I use rain barrels as a primary water source and I incorporate Missouri native plants into the garden. I attempt to feed bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to promote and preserve valuable threatened native pollinators.

Even within my home I conscientiously stick to the motto, "reduce, reuse and recycle." I use LED lightbulbs, recycle trash, bags and batteries, keep my AC (when I use it) at 74F, I eat more veg than meat, and shop at thrift stores all in an effort to limit my carbon footprint. While I am far from a shining example, I try to be a responsible human with respect to my influence on the environment.

Humanity's overall impact on the environment is in my opinion, the driving factor behind climate change. Waste, and fossil fuel use have taken a toll on the air, water and land resources of the Earth. For too long, humanity has placed itself at the top of the hierarchy of Earth's creatures, not living in symbiosis with the environment but arrogantly trying to bend the environment and its resources to our will. As a result of centuries of this narcissistic mindset, the June 3rd I experienced today, was hot, nearly 90F/32.2C! Certainly not like the pleasant early Junes of my past, where temperatures were comfortable, roses bloomed and evenings were cool.

President Trump's decision to leave the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, is not only an international debacle, but a revocation of the United States' role as a leader and steward for the environment. I am embarrassed to be an American, given the short-sighted and potentially catastrophic policies coming out of Washington, D.C. Energy conservation, clean energy and energy innovation are where the United States should be focusing, not in resurrecting the polluting coal industry. I am sorry coal miners are losing jobs, but everyone is dealing with losing or changing jobs because the world is changing. Instead of trying to control or dictate that change, perhaps we should listen to the scientists who are working to help us through these different and challenging times. 

Here are some powerful resources that started me on my small journey to help the planet. Perhaps if we all did a little something, it would matter more to solving our environmental problem than the politics of our homelands.