Five Plants that Beat the Heat

Does your garden have hot flashes? Keep it cool with these colorful blooms from my Platinum Collection by Proven Winners® that can take the heat.

Luscious® Citrus Blend™ Lantana – The blooms on Citrus Blend® are clusters of tiny brilliant red-orange flowers with a few yellow ones in the center. It seems the hotter it gets, the more this plant flowers.
Annual except in zones 10 – 11; full sun; mounding habit; 24 to 36 inches tall.

Proven Winners Luscious® Citrus Blend™ Lantana paired with blue verbena.

‘Primal Scream’ Daylily – This award winning variety has spectacular 7.5 to 8.5 inch, glimmering tangerine orange, gold dusted blossoms. It’s a show stopper!
Perennial; zones 3 – 9; full sun to partial shade; 34 inches tall.

Proven Winners 'Primal Scream' Daylily

‘Cheyenne Sky’ Red Switch Grass – A chameleon in the garden. Over the course of the summer the blue-green foliage turns wine red. By the beginning of fall the entire clump is drenched in color. The flower panicles are deep purple. Compact 3 foot height makes it easier to work into home gardens and combo containers.
Perennial; zones 4 – 9; full sun; upright habit; 36 inches tall.

Proven Winners 'Cheyenne Sky' Red Switch Grass

Summerific™ ‘Cranberry Crush’ Hibiscus – A colossus in the Garden! Summerific™ ‘Cranberry Crush’ has extraordinary 7-8″ flowers of dusky burgundy, is a compact grower, and a profuse bloomer even into the fall. Its flowers are irresistible to hummingbirds.
Perennial zones 4a – 9b; full sun to partial shade; upright habit; 36 to 48 inches tall and 48 to 60 inches wide.

Summerific™ ‘Cranberry Crush’ Hibiscus

Lo & Behold® ‘Purple Haze’ Butterfly Bush – Dark purple-blue panicles of flowers radiate outward from this low-growing butterfly bush. The blooms are fragrant and a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies. Deer resistant and non-invasive.
Perennial; zones 5 – 9; full sun; spreading habit; 36 inches tall.

Lo & Behold® ‘Purple Haze’ Butterfly Bush

 

Enter to win a Proven Winners® WaterWise® container watering kit by telling me which of these five “beat the heat” plants is your favorite. I’ll select a winner using Random.org on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. Use the comments form below to enter. Good luck!

 

Congratulations to Rosa Ghosheh! You are the winner of the Proven Winners® WaterWise® container watering kit! Check your email for a message from us.

 

July Bloom – Daylilies

Daylilies need to come with a warning—these plants can be habit forming! Once you have grown them for yourself, I think you’ll understand why they have such an enthusiastic following.

The genus name for daylily, hemerocallis, was derived from two Greek words meaning “beautiful for a day.” Each bloom lives and dies in the course of a day, but a single plant produces a plethora of buds that flower for weeks. Here are a few that I grow in my garden.

'Joan Senior' Daylily

'Going Bananas' Daylily is part of my Platinum Collection from Proven Winners®

'Mary Todd' Daylily

'Barbara Mitchell' Daylily

'Strawberry Candy' Daylily

'Persian Market' Daylily

Hemerocallis fulva is often referred to as ditch lily because it is found growing wild along the roads in ditches.

'Primal Scream' Daylily is part of my Platinum Collection from Proven Winners®

'Charles Johnston' Daylily

'Red Ribbons' Daylily

'Nosferatu' Daylily

'Night Beacon' Daylily

 

If you love daylilies too, check out the American Hemerocallis Society.

 

Homegrown Wedding Flowers

Click the cover image to read more of Allen's wedding bouquet ideas on AYMag.com.Whether you’re saying “I do” in spring, summer or fall, there are a bounty of blooms that are easy to grow for use in arrangements and bouquets. Here are a few of my favorite, garden stems for these three seasons.

Spring

Daffodils – If you’ve been to my farm, you know daffodils are one of my favorites. Plant the bulbs in the late fall and you’ll enjoy vases full of the yellow charmers as soon as the temperatures begin to warm.

Peonies – Peonies are one of the hardiest and most resilient plants in the garden. What’s more their prime time for blooming starts in mid-May and runs through June—perfect for the wedding season. If you plan to cut peonies from the garden, I suggest selecting half-opened blooms, simply because they will last longer.

Tulips – You can find a tulip in just about any shade and there are a variety of bloom shapes too. Plant bulbs in fall. Check the bloom time for the variety to make sure it will be in flower at the time of your ceremony.

Bouquet Idea
Contrast the cup shape of tulips with the soft curves of calla lilies. I think yellow calla lilies paired with pale yellow to cream tulips would be lovely.

Summer

Hydrangeas – Because hydrangeas are so full you only need a few stems to create a lush bouquet. It’s important to know Hydrangeas do have a tendency to lose their vitality, so you’ll want to keep them in a cool place and give them plenty of water after they are cut. If possible, cut them the morning of the wedding to ensure the freshest bouquet.

Lilies – Lilies will come back year after year and be prolific producers of open full blooms. White Oriental lilies make for an elegant and fragrant bouquet. For the best color selection choose an Asiatic variety. Be sure to remove lily stamens to keep the pollen from getting on clothes.

Zinnias – Plant zinnias and you’ll enjoy a bounty of wildflower-like beauty from early summer until the first frost. I like cutting these and loosely arranging a mason jar for an effortless look. For a bouquet, I suggest tying with natural raffia.

Bouquet Idea
For casual, but colorful flowers mix red, yellow and orange with pink and green zinnias.

Fall

Sunflowers – An iconic symbol of the close of summer and start of fall, cut a few sunflower stalks and loosely assemble with ribbon for a tied bouquet or simply enjoy their beauty in tall metal or glass vase.

Cockscomb – With a vase life of 5-10 days, cockscomb’s modern look makes for a hardy bouquet. Mix with other seasonal selections from your florist or market, such as button mums, for a fall display.

Dahlias – One of the most cheerful blooms in the garden, you’ll want to plant your dahlias around the same time you put tomatoes in the ground. You can expect to have cut flowers from late summer until the first frost.

Bouquet Idea
Any of these blooms would be lovely for a monochromatic arrangement or bouquet. All three offer varieties that produce different bloom forms so you can pick flowers in the same color family, but with different shapes.

Buffalo, Yoga and Black Walnut Pie

I recently spent a great couple of days around the Jasper area shooting some segments for an upcoming episode of my Garden Home television show. This scenic town is nestled in the Ozark Mountains and surrounded by the natural beauty of the Buffalo River.

The Buffalo River Valley

My trip included a stay at the historic Arkansas House. This inn is ideally located along scenic Highway 7 with easy access to both the Buffalo River and Ozark National Forest. Janet Morgan, owner of the Arkansas House with her husband, Joseph, graciously taught me how to make her famous Black Walnut Pie.

Janet showed me how to make the famous Arkansas House Black Walnut Pie.

I also visited with the Ratchford family on their farm. Originally founded in the 1950s, Ratchford Farms grazes buffalo, elk, and cattle on a 500 acre spread. The farm is located along the Buffalo River, which provides a beautiful area for the cattle to roam the open meadows and drink from pure spring water.

Jethro mugs for the camera and for a treat.

Finally, I visited with Holly and Matt Krepps, owners of the Circle Yoga Shala. They were kind enough to walk me around the 25 acre working homestead located on Shiloh Mountain. The property includes a fruit orchard, grape vineyard, pastures, and walking trails. They also showed me some easy, but beneficial yoga poses for gardeners.

A little yoga before gardening.

It was a wonderful trip and I highly recommend spending a few days in this beautiful part of our state.

News from Moss Mountain Farm

Close to 98 percent of U.S. farms are family owned.Arkansas farmers aren’t the only people talking about soybeans in spring. For the second year in a row we’ve held two events at the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home to help spread the word about the importance of agriculture and soybean farming in my home state. Both events were born out of my partnership with the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.

Soybean University
First up on the calendar was Soybean University. Students from the Brinkley FFA and Arkansas 4-H visited the farm to learn about careers in agriculture and soybean farming.

More than 30 students attended.

Rhonda Carroll lives on a soybean farm with her husband Jim. She showed the kids how to make soy milk with raw beans. If you don’t have soybeans growing outside your back door like Rhonda you can purchase them from a feed store, a health food store or online.

Students then test tasted soy milk with soy nut cookies. Get the recipe.

We walked up to Poultryville to discuss the importance of soy in animal feed.

Moose was in heaven.

As were Smudge and Squeak.

Ben Thrash, a student at the University of Arkansas is an Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board Fellowship recipient. He spoke with students about careers in agriculture, the impact of agriculture in Arkansas and his background as part of a farm family from Conway, AR.

Students planted Arkansas Kirksey Edamame seeds, which were developed as a part of an ASPB research project and are now grown throughout the river valley region of Arkansas.

We ended the day with an ice cream social featuring soy ice cream and candy-coated soy nuts.

Bean2Blog
Mid-May the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and I put together a day of workshops focusing one of our state’s most valuable assets – the soybean. All the attendees were Arkansas women bloggers so we got to celebrate a talented group of women too.

The bloggers heard from West Higginbotham, Vice Chairman of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and an Arkansas farmer, about soybean uses and farming life.

Tamara won the Bean2Blog ticket giveaway on Facebook and arrived at the event looking for ideas for the farm she recently purchased. I think the highlight of the day was holding Amos.

Once again Moose was the center of attention.

Lockstars was on hand again this year to demonstrate how to make soy candles.

I demonstrated how to make edamame hummus.

We asked each of the bloggers to come up with a new catch word for soy. Soy-licious, soy-tisfying, soy-percalifragilisticexpialidocious, soy-ragious, soy-lovely, soy-izzle, and soy-tastic are just a few of the creative words they suggested.

During a round table discussion we got to learn from the bloggers about their industry and receive feedback about the day’s events.

Everyone took home edamame seeds to plant.

The 2013 Bean2Blog group!

Here’s a list of the participating bloggers with links to their blogs.

June Bloom – Hydrangea macrophylla

How many of you remember the part of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty where the fairy godmothers fight over whether Sleeping Beauty’s ball gown should be pink or blue? I think of that scene every time the old-fashioned mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) burst into bloom in June. The colors are so rich they are the stuff of magic.

It’s not a fairy godmother that determines whether this hydrangea’s blooms are pink or blue, it is aluminum. Lots of aluminum makes for blue flowers, lack of aluminum and the blooms will be pink.

The pH of the soil determines how much aluminum H. macrophylla can absorb.

Sweet soils (pH of 6.0 to 6.2) = pink hydrangea blooms.

Neutral soils (pH of 5.5 to 6.5) = purple blooms.

Acidic soils (pH of 5.5 and lower) = blue blooms.

Add lime to the soil for pink blooms; add aluminum sulfate for blue blooms. The amount of lime or aluminum sulfate needed depends on the soil composition.

If you are dead set on your hydrangea being pink or blue, grow it in a container where you can easily control the soil pH.

Tomato Tales

This is an excerpt from my column in AY Magazine. Read the entire article here.

Long before social media was even a spark in our collective conscious, bits of “wisdom” have been going viral via word of mouth in the form of old wives tales and folklore.

For me, these stories are interesting because they are part of our oral tradition. For instance, how many of you have heard that it is bad luck to place a hat on a bed or that going out in the cold with wet hair will make you sick?

Of course, my favorite anecdotes are about gardening and some of the best are related to growing tomatoes. It seems everyone’s grandmother had a pearl of wisdom about getting the growing the best tasting tomato.

Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato

Here are a few tomato tales that I’m familiar with. Some are based in fact, while others are pure fiction.

  1. Sprinkle sugar in the planting hole or water your tomatoes with sugar water to make them sweeter. This is untrue. The sweetness of a tomato is determined by the variety. If you want a sweet tomato try planting ‘Sungold’ or ‘Mr. Stripey’.
  2. If you have a tomato plant that is lush, but doesn’t set fruit, beat it with a broom. The idea behind this tip is that the beating will stress the plant and prompt bloom. More blooms mean a better chance for tomatoes. I haven’t tried this one, but the old-timers swear by it.
  3. To prevent blossom end rot add crushed eggshells to the planting hole. This suggestion actually has legs to it. The eggshells are a good source of calcium, which helps reduce blossom end rot.How about you? What’s the best tomato growing “advice” you know? Have you tried any of these tips?

Spring in Luncheon Season!

For more spring party inspiration read my column in this month’s issue of AY magazine. You can find it online here. Read the entire article here.

The equinox on March 20th is the official beginning of spring, which is cause for celebration don’t you think?

Hosting a get-together doesn’t need to be a lot of work, especially during this gentle season. You can make your fete memorable and keep it simple by following these helpful tips.

Venue

Use both indoor and outdoor spaces. To accommodate spring’s unpredictable weather set up the dining indoors and the pre-meal gathering outdoors. Your guests can enjoy some time in the garden, but you won’t have to scramble if the day turns out dreary.

Invitations

Be old-fashioned and send a written invitation. This extra step makes even small gatherings more special.

Menu

Luncheons are tailor-made for fresh spring ingredients like salad greens, English peas and asparagus so stick to dishes that feature the flavors of the season.

Table Setting

Spring is the most ethereal season; set a special table to reflect this feeling. Use spring-centric colors or delicate tableware to set the tone. You can’t go wrong with a white table cloth, but bright hues are a fun way to create a lively mood.

 

March Bloom: Daffodils

We’ve planted 280,000 daffodils at the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home. You might say I’m a little daffodil crazy, but what’s not to love about this cheery little flower? They are one of the first blooms to appear in spring, the fragrance is heavenly, and they are perennial. Plus the deer won’t eat them.

Right now the daffodils are in full bloom out at the farm and it’s a sight to behold.

 

If pictures aren’t enough for your daffodil loving heart, make a trip out to farm for one of our Daffodil Days open houses. Click here to learn more.

February Giveaway – Jobe’s Organics Fertilizer

What’s the secret to a bountiful vegetable garden? Healthy soil. Good soil, combined with ample sunshine and consistent moisture will produce a garden that’s easy to maintain and very productive.

Out at the farm we give the soil a leg up with Jobe’s Organics Fertilizer. Their products contain three essential microorganisms – bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi and a unique species of Archaea. Archaea sets Jobe’s apart from other microbial fertilizers because it is so aggressive, quickly breaking down material into nutrients for plants. Our tests of Jobe’s resulted in better looking plants, with increased resistance to weather extremes.

Do you want to try Jobe’s Organics out in your own garden? Leave a comment below for a chance to win an 8 pound bag of their Heirloom Tomato and Vegetable Food.

I’ll pick a winner on March 6th at 9:30 a.m. CST.

 

 Congratulations to Jim Allen! He’s the randomly selected winner of the giveaway. Get ready for a a bountiful vegetable garden this summer Jim!