Tag: garden

Ohio National Poultry Show

I first fell in love with poultry when I was a kid and my mom was my biggest supporter. Mom would load the station wagon down with birds and off we’d go to the poultry show with my little brother in tow. She was kind of like a pageant mom without the sequins and she facilitated a passion that has never faded. That’s why it’s important to me to do the same for other youngsters who have been bitten by the poultry bug.

Poultry shows are a fun way to encourage a child’s interest in poultry. It’s a great venue for learning solid breeding practices, discovering heritage breeds and finding a community of peers. Over 100 years, let’s them compare their birds and breeding practices with others. It’s like an art critique allowing breeders to get insights from more experienced breeders and learn how to improve their birds.

I recently returned from The Ohio National in Columbus, Ohio. It’s an event that is considered the Westminster of poultry shows where breeders show the best of the best. This year there were close to 6,000 entries including chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and even pigeons.

Frizzle Cochin

White Crested Black Polish

White Leghorn

White Crested Black Polish

Tobunt Polish

Blue Ameraucana

Dark Brown Leghorn

Dark Brahma

I was at the Ohio National representing the Heritage Poultry Conservancy. The Conservancy gives prize money for winners in youth competitions.

Good to Know

The American Standard of Perfection is the poultry bible for poultry judges and entrants alike. It explains how each breed and variety should look from the angle of their tail feathers to the color of their beaks. It’s a great gift for young poultry enthusiasts. You can purchase the latest edition of the American Standard of Perfection from the American Poultry Association.

 

August Bloom – Salvia

Silent all summer the late-season salvias in my garden are starting to sing this month. Drought-tolerant, long-blooming and vibrant I rely on salvias, or sages as they are sometimes called, to turn up the color volume from August through the first freeze in late autumn.

Salvia 'Sparkler Red'

Saliva 'Sparkler Red', Marigold 'Tiger Eye' and Pineapple Sage 'Golden Delicious'

I love the scent of pineapple sage. This image was shot in October and as you can see the salvias are still showing off.

Salvia 'Wendy's Wish', ColorBlaze Limelife Coleus, and Salvia 'Blue Bedder'

Autumn sage (Saliva greggi)

Mexican Sage 'Santa Barbara' (Salvia leucantha)

Hummingbird sage (Salvia guaranitica)

 

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.

Deer Resistant Plants? Fact or Fiction?

Raise your hand if deer like to graze in your garden. How many different tactics have you tried to protect your plants? Have you tried hanging bars of soap from tree limbs, sprayed predator urine or scattered human hair around flower beds?

While these inventive measures may work temporarily, a long term solution requires a holistic approach. First, you have to give up the idea that you are ever going to deer proof your garden. Unless you build a 7-foot tall fence around your place, there’s not much you can do to keep them out. Next, make your garden less appealing to deer. Stop planting their favorites like tulips, roses and hostas and choose plants that deer are less inclined to eat. A few plant characteristics to look out for are fuzzy foliage, an antiseptic aroma and a bad taste.

Are there plants that are 100 percent deer resistant? No. The truth is that deer will eat anything when food is scarce, but if your garden is filled with plants that deer find unpleasant, there is a good chance they will move on to the delicacies in your neighbor’s yard.

 

Soil Secrets from an Expert

It’s often said that the secret to successful gardening is good soil. But what’s the secret to getting good soil? I asked Jen Neve, President of Oppenheimer Biotechnology, to shed some light on the mystery.

I first met Jen in 2011 when she spoke to a group of garden writers at Moss Mountain Farm. Her company specializes in growing the microorganism Archaea. Archaea is like the Incredible Hulk of microorganisms. Aggressive, fast and tolerant of harsh conditions, it is used at oil spills to recycle contaminants into natural compounds. The microbes break down complex materials into basic nutrients and trace elements that are beneficial to plants. For this reason Archaea is also a great soil amendment, which is why you’ll find it in fertilizers offered by my friends at Jobe’s Organic Fertilizers.

While she was at the farm I noticed how Jen was able to take fairly complicated information and translate it into something we could all understand – sort of like Archaea! I thought she’d be the perfect person to explain the nature of good soil.

Here are the questions I posed to Jen and her responses.

Allen: A common mantra in gardening is “feed the soil, not the plants.” What does this mean and how can gardeners feed the soil?

Jen Neve: Plants get most of their nutrients from the soil – so the way to have a healthy plant is to make sure your soil is healthy. When you start your garden make sure you use sand, compost and organic fertilizer and mix it into your existing soil. Microbes are hugely important and often chemicals can harm them so they may not exist in sufficient numbers in backyard soil. I suggest using an organic fertilizer that has beneficial bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi and especially Archaea. Plant whatever you want, mulch, and once or twice a year apply organic fertilizer then leave it alone. Too much digging and fiddling disturbs the root system, in fact it disturbs the whole soil structure and can harm your plants. I know I started that way – dig, dig, dig…fiddle, fiddle, fiddle – it was just more work for me without really helping the plants. So my gardening mantra is now “get it established and leave it alone.”

Allen: How can a gardener tell is their soil is healthy? What do you consider to be the most important elements of healthy soil?

Jen: I think the best way to tell if your soil is healthy is to take a look at the soil. Soil is a complex assemblage of decaying organic matter, stable organic matter, fresh residue and many living organisms ranging in size from the tiny bacteria, Archaea, algae, fungi, and protozoa, more complex nematodes and micro-arthropods, to the visible earthworms, insects, small vertebrates, and even plants. The most important elements are signs of life and non-uniformity. By signs of life I mean can you see little creatures in it? Are there bits of plant matter (green as well as decaying)? Can you see grains of sand? Tiny rocks? Perhaps some leaves and sticks? Contrast that to sand in the desert – yes, it’s pretty but it’s uniform & for the most part lifeless.

Allen: How does Archaea contribute to soil health? How is it different from mycorrhizal fungi?

Jen: Within the soil the mycorrhizal fungi establishes a symbiotic relationship with plant roots by penetrating plant root tissues and surrounding root mass to more effectively take in needed nutrients. The Archaea are microorganisms similar to bacteria that work in the soil to release greater amounts of nutrients so the plant can take in nutrition as required. There is a natural cooperation developed between Archaea and beneficial bacteria making them more effective as a group. Archaea also breaks down organic matter into usable forms that plant roots and mycorrhizal fungi can identify, absorb, and ultimately incorporate for new growth. There has been some interesting research in Europe indicating that Archaea have an important role in the nitrogen cycle, one that is completely different than the traditional role limited to bacteria only.

You can think of the mycorrhizal fungi as an extension of the plant roots allowing the plant to use more of the nutrients the Archaea have made available.

Imagine a family all sitting around the dinner table with different kinds of food all along the center of the table – where most of the food is in unopened cans. The Archaea are the can openers, allowing the food to be available but only to the people right in front of the food. If you hand some of the people 2-foot long forks (aka mycorrhizal fungi) they can grab food from anywhere on the table – allowing them a more varied diet and therefore a healthier life.

Allen: Beyond good soil, what’s your best tip for a successful garden?

Jen: Plant what grows & be patient. Seems simple but we all try to make plants grow where WE want them NOW. I always scour all the local nurseries and even big box stores looking for plants in small pots (lots of native plants) and then plant several different kinds all in one area and wait a season to see what happens. Then I buy & plant more of what thrived without extra attention from me. If a “weed” happens to grow and looks pretty then I leave it in the garden. I happen to love the wild English garden look so this method works for me. My friends all say I have a green thumb but actually, I just plant more of what has grown for me. Also, as I mentioned earlier – get the healthy soil established and just leave the soil alone.

February Bloom: Camellia Japonica

One of the showiest blooms in a Southern garden makes its appearance in late February when everything else is still asleep. It’s the Camellia japonica, cousin to the autumn flowering Camellia sasanqua. While sasanquas tend to be delicate, Camellia japonica is a bold, fleshy flower that screams, “Look at me!”

With their dark, evergreen leaves Camellias make beautiful hedges and the blooms create a seasonal focal point.

Say No to Nicotine and Yes to Nicotiana

Nicotiana 'Perfume Deep Purple'Today, May 31st is World No Tobacco Day so in honor of that celebration I’d like to tell you about a few Flowering Tobaccos!

Smoking tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum came from the New World and circled out to cultures around the globe. Flowering Tobacco, the cousin of leaf tobacco, is a charming heirloom flower experiencing a Renaissance with gardeners lately. The best part about this ornamental is that it fills the summer garden with large, brightly colored trumpets of star-shaped flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Many hybrids offer smaller, more compact plants with abundant flowers that bloom throughout the summer.

I also grow Nicotiana sylvestris for its statuesque presence and sweet aroma. It makes a bold statement in my flower borders and frequently comes back as a volunteer. The plant is very fragrant with tubular-shaped, white flowers that dance on 30″ – 36″ tall branched stems during the summer.

Another one to try is Nicotiana langsdorfii because it too grows to an impressive height and I love the waxy, lime green blooms. A third species that I just discovered is Nicotiana x hybrida ‘Tinkerbell’. It is similar in appearance to N. langsdorfii but produces lime green and rose flowers with amazing azure blue pollen.

Try Planting an Evening Garden

I enjoy Nicotiana alata for its strong, jasmine like fragrance at night. Introduced into garden cultivation in the United States and England in the early 1800′s Nicotiana alata was prized for its white, highly scented night-blooming flowers. In Victorian times, Nicotiana sylvestris was intentionally planted along walkways and paths so that those strolling by could enjoy the sweet fragrance of the flowers.

A noted garden writer of the early 20th century Louise Beebe Wilder describes Nicotiana alata as a “poor figure by day … but with the coming of the night the long creamy tubes freshen and expand and give forth their rich perfume and we are then glad we have so much of it…”

I have to agree, I’m a huge fan of all of the Flowering Tobaccos!

Ten Unusual Seeds

Seeds are the miracle makers of the garden world. Big things come from such small, seemingly inert packages. A carrot seed is small enough to get caught under a fingernail and yet will produce a delectable carrot in a few months. And what about sunflowers or corn? So much promise!

There’s still time to get seeds started. If you live in a cold climate you can get a jump start by sowing seeds indoors. Gardeners who live in regions with long summers and warm falls be sure to buy extra now to start a second crop of blooms and vegetables midsummer.

Flowers

Sunflower ‘Sonya’


Zinnia ‘Benary’s Scarlet Giant’


Gomphrena ‘Las Vegas Pink’


Cosmos ‘Cosmic Orange’


Polish Amaranth ‘Oeschburg’ (Amaranth cruentus)

Veggies & Herbs

Carrots ‘Purple Dragon’


Lettuce ‘Tom Thumb’


Tomato ‘Sun Gold’


Yard Long Beans


Pepper ‘Holy Mole’