Monday, August 29, 2016

Indian Summer: A Bouquet Inspired by Hindu Legend

‘Radha With Her Confidante, Pining for Krishna’ (ca. 1775-1780). Photo: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kumquats and monkey’s paws help convey the exoticism of
‘Radha With Her Confidante, Pining for Krishna’ (ca. 1775-1780).
Christine Roland Black Stoneware Vase, from $230,
Can Cats Talk to Dogs in Their Own Way? Studio, 49-176-6385-6470
                    Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson for The Wall Street Journal,
Floral Styling by Lindsey Taylor, Prop Styling by Nidia Cueva.
By Lindsey Taylor          

A show at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art recently helped me escape the rude swelter of Manhattan in August, at least figuratively. The intricate figures and approach to landscape on a diminutive scale in “Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts”—a collection of centuries-old, sacred-text illustrations on view until Sept. 12—were so seductive, I forgot the foul heat and jackhammering of the city. I also found the inspiration for this month’s arrangement, in “Radha With Her Confidante, Pining for Krishna” (ca. 1775-1780).

The watercolor and ink painting on paper, only about 7 by 11 inches, depicts a fraught, beyond-Brangelina moment in the love affair between Radha, a goddess of devotion and loyalty, and the god Krishna. He has abandoned her, though he will later recognize his foolishness.

A matte black vessel by ceramist Christine Roland gave my arrangement texture and tone reminiscent of the tree trunks. Full yellow roses, deep orange kangaroo paws, branches of kumquats and flowering crab apple, and eucalyptus pods and leaves provided exoticism.

The branches that slant upward to the left mimic the line the eye travels from the leaning pose of desperate Radha to the trees and hills. A single violet clematis bloom droops over the edge of the vase, echoing the confidant’s skirt in shape and color. The arrangement is dense within an intimate scale, like the painting. No need to be oversize to exude an otherworldly passion.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

BOOKS: Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science - Practical Application

Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science - Practical Application
Author:  Linda Chalker-Scott
Ring-bound: 273 pages
Publisher: GFG Publishing Inc. (2009)
ISBN-10: 1929509049
ISBN-13: 978-1929509041

By Lorraine Foley, November 11, 2013

Horticulturist and plant scientist Dr Linda Chalker-Scott's Sustainable Landscapes & Gardens is an insightful and no-nonsense approach to sustainable gardening. It is a collection of integrated text books with contributions from 21 experts from horticulture and academia. Now let's not assume that this is a dry scientific tome, in fact it achieves its goal of delivering scientific text in a palatable way to suit all garden lovers who hunger for more research.

The book is divided into five chapters that are themselves individual booklets contained in a binder. This allows for the relevant chapter to be removed as needed as opposed to hauling around a large reference book. Now this appeals to my logical nature. Well, we gardeners are a practical bunch after all! There are also additional supplementary chapters that can be purchased from the author's website.

The author generously shares her vast knowledge of horticulture in an engaging way. Her style is friendly yet never light weight; scientific research is the back bone to this book. From the start we are guided through the difference between horticultural fact and myth, enabling us to decipher marketing text and peer reviewed findings. Clarity about the merits of scientific research is eloquently set out with a rundown of creating a scientific experiment, discerning reliable sources and discussing the meaning of sustainability. She has given the reader the tools to critically examine the science of gardening, and all that in just chapter one!

Planting, Taking the Plunge guides the reader through the sometimes confusing process of purchasing healthy plants, all delivered with wonderful practical insight. This chapter also covers the art of tree planting however with a twist! This is where the conventional wisdom of horticulture is usurped by pure scientific research. Peer reviewed findings indicate that woody perennials thrive when planted as bare root. Linda pulls no punches as she advices the reader to wash away all the compost from the roots of a container tree and give the cleaned roots a really good old tussle, and even a root prune to stimulate new growth. These roots are tough, they can take it and the research supports this claim!
Another unusual departure in tree planting is the objection to the use of organic soil amelioration. In fact a tree planted with regular native soil will establish and thrive long term in comparison to those with organic material included in the back fill. In a step by step guide, the reader is led through the process of tree planting with clear instruction. This approach illustrates the best practice for healthy sustainable planting.

Interior chapters present the finer points of soil type, pesticides and proper usage and nutrient management. The subject of nutrient excess and the impact on the environment underpins the ethos of the book. The relevance of relying on indicator plants to discern nutrient levels as revealed in the lush green foliage of healthy plants. Let the plants tell us what they need and not apply fertilizers adroitly is the principle message. In fact the main theme of the book is embedded in common sense and having the confidence to rely on observation of plant health. This is clearly illustrated in "What's Wrong With My Plant?" chapter, a combination of examples and colour images create an important reference for all gardeners.

Dr Linda Chalker-Scott's gift is to present plant science and the often maligned term "sustainability" as practical and understandable to everyone. If you are a hobby gardener or horticulturist who cares about how things work and desire to work sustainably, then this book is for you. So in keeping with the spirit of this book, let's get our hands dirty!

Table of Contents:

Ch. 1 - Introduction - Why You Need This Book
Ch. 2 - Scientific Literacy - Becoming a Citizen Scientist
Ch. 3 - Sustainability - Application in Landscapes & Gardens
Ch. 4 - Basic Plant Science - Structures & Functions
Ch. 5 - Identifying Plants - Using Keys & Keen Observation
Ch. 6 - Urban Soil - Management
Ch. 7 - The Lay of the Land - Site Analysis & Soil Preparation
Ch. 8 - Plant Choices - Natives or Introductions?
Ch. 9 - Invasive Ornamentals - When Good Plants Go Bad
Ch. 10 - Plant Propagation - Techniques & Nurseries
Ch. 11 - Selecting Quality Plants - Better Long-Term Value & Satisfaction
Ch. 12 - Installation and Aftercare - Permanent Landscapes
Ch. 13 - Plant Nutrition - Mineral Function & Fertilizer Application
Ch. 14 - Water-Wise Landscaping - Protecting Resources & Your Wallet
Ch. 15 - Sustainable Pruning - Woody Landscape Plants
Ch. 16 - Using IPM in Yardscapes - Responsible Pest Management
Ch. 17 - Diagnosing Plant Stress - Living & Nonliving Causes
Ch. 18 - Understanding Pesticides - To Spray or Not to Spray
Ch. 19 - Plant Diseases - Diagnosis & Treatment
Ch. 20 - Basic Entomology - Anatomy, Development & Identification
Ch. 21 - Managing Vertebrates - In the Garden & Landscape
Ch. 22 - Weeds - Managing "Out of Place" Plants

Friday, August 19, 2016

In the Garden: Caterpillar Feast!

This week Durham Co. Master Gardener Lynne Nelson spotted a total of eight swallowtail caterpillars feasting on the rue (Ruta graveolens) in her Durham garden.
Rue was once thought a medicinal herb (it's not) and has a strong smell repellent to dogs, cats and Japanese beetles, thus making it an excellent companion plant. It has semi-woody growth which can be pruned and trained into hedges. Rue attracts some types of butterflies and be used as a filler plant in floral arrangements.
 Photo by Lynne Nelson, Durham Co. Master Gardener

Sunday, August 14, 2016

September Council Business Meeting: Sept. 6

The Durham Council of Garden Clubs will convene on Tuesday, Sept. 6 for its first business meeting of the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. at the John Sprunt Hill House, 900 S. Duke St, Durham, NC 27707.

Agenda items will include:

President Trish Stewart (DA) will present 2016-2017 projects and the March Joint Meeting

Council Committee Chairs will present their reports

Club Presidents or Club Representatives will be provided the newly published 2016-2017 Council Yearbook/Membership Directory for their members.

Top Tips for Growing Lavender

Bundles of freshly-picked lavender in Sequim, Washington.
Photo © Georgianna Lane.
Paul Jendrucko, or “Dr. Lavender,” is a well-known resource for all things lavender. Flower Magazine consulted him to learn the scoop for growing this heavenly-scented plant. He shares both need to know facts and practical tips for tending your own lavender garden.

Here’s his prescription:

1) Lavender is described as a woody or bushy perennial, which means it lives throughout the four seasons and exhibits a dormancy stage in the winter and a reproductive (flowering) stage in the summer.

2) Lavender requires no fertilizers, pesticides, or chemicals to maintain its vigor and no insects or animals prefer the plant as a food source.

3) Be both inquisitive and cautious when selecting over-the-counter and mass-propagated varieties produced in warmer climates. Your selection of lavender should be mainly based on what you observe thriving in your growing region and on what you learn from the all-important label on the plant container.

4) Most plants peak at about two to three feet in height and at least that measurement in width when in full bloom. It may take two or three growing seasons to reach a mature height.

5) Suitable planting conditions exist when the soil drains and does not puddle and remain sticky. The weather should be leaning toward a trend favoring cool and moderate temperatures. Ideally, soil temperature should be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Portrait Photo Courtesy of Mary & Paul Jendrucko
6) During the first growing season, the lavender plant is focusing on building a good root system and some top foliage instead of on reproduction. The plant will produce several flower spikes to show off its beauty. Snip growth off at the base of the spike (or stem) where it leads to a pair of leaves. During the following seasons, the plant will noticeably increase in size and produce bountiful blooms.

7) Promote sun and good air circulation to produce robust blooms and to maintain the health of the plant. Provide lavender with five or more hours of sunlight each day during the growing season and don’t over water. In general, lavender does not require regular watering and can survive on rainfall alone.

8) Place lavender outside the perimeter of vegetable gardens to attract and invite pollinators.

9) Prune in mid-to-late October and perform the “Halloween haircut”. The weather is still pleasant, the soil is firm, and holiday activities are a month away. When pruned, your plant should resemble a bowl or sleeping porcupine. Always prune so that two to three inches of green growth remain on the plant. Despite what you may have heard or seen, lavender does not respond favorably to heavy pruning deep into the brown woody growth.

10) Harvest lavender for display in a vase or floral arrangement when the buds have swollen to a deep blue or purple color and several of the trumpet flowers have emerged. Harvesting can occur as the flowers continue to blossom. It is also best to harvest when no more than 25-30% of the flowers have blossomed.

Fall Board Meeting of The Garden Club of NC: Sept. 11-12

The Fall Board Meeting for The Garden Club of North Carolina will be held Sunday, Sept. 11 through Monday, Sept. 12, in the Doubletee Hotel in Rocky Mount, NC.

All state committees and Director meetings will be held on Sunday.

Fall Board Meeting guest speakers will include:
Barry Hines of "Bee Blessed" and Matt Stevens, Nash County Cooperative Extension Agent on Sunday; Monday lunch will feature Bernice Pitt.

Full agenda and registration form to the meeting can be found on The Garden Club of North Carolina website:

Sunday, August 7, 2016

How To Kill Crabgrass and Not the Entire Yard

Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) plants can produce 150,000 seeds per plant
and can take over a lawn in just a couple years!
From the Garden Counselor

Kill Crabgrass Now! Don’t delay, but don't make a mistake.
The innocent looking, attractive green seedlings quickly become voracious monsters that can devour your entire lawn. What will it cost in terms of time, energy and money to get rid of this nuisance? Unfortunately, this is one of the worst weeds to get rid of.
The fast way to kill crabgrass could also be a fast way to kill your good lawn grass. Many lawns will tolerate a chemical spray designed to kill crabgrass, but not all grass varieties are safe. Many different manufacturers of garden chemicals offer their own version of crabgrass killer.
It is VERY IMPORTANT to read the label on Crabgrass Killer.
Why? Crabgrass killer will kill some varieties of grass lawns, under any conditions. It will kill other varieties if used incorrectly. To borrow a famous phrase: It will kill some of the grass all of the time, and all of the grass some of the time!
Another article on St. Augustine lawns and centipede grass tells how they are particularly susceptible to most crabgrass killers. They are likely to suffer injury, and may be killed. Some products may permit their use on these grasses at lower concentrations, others say not at all. Bermuda, zoysia and bent grass may be fine for applications of crabgrass killer, but not at all times of the year. Fescues and ryegrass may be alright with some products, or some concentrations, but not all.
As an example, a convenient, Ready-To-Spray product for Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, or Perennial Ryegrass Lawns ONLY. It does not kill any broadleaf weeds, with a very specific active ingredient, Fenoxaprop-p-ethyl, which targets grass species. Just make sure your lawn grass variety is safe.
You can successfully kill crabgrass in some lawns with products designed for that purpose. This should be marked clearly on the label. They are available as concentrates that can be mixed in a tank sprayer. Use no more than the recommended amount.
Trying to kill crabgrass in your lawn when the weather is extremely hot will place additional stress on your good grass. If you spray when the temperature is over 85 degrees, the lawn can incur more damage than if you spray when it is cooler.It is best to wait for a cooler spell, if possible. If that is not likely to happen, then spray very early in the morning or later in the evening, avoiding the hottest part of the day. It is always better to do a repeat application than to use a stronger mix, thinking it will work better or faster.
Do not use these concentrates in a hose end sprayer unless it is the type that allows you to dial in the setting for the correct concentration. The liquid fertilizer sprayers do not permit this. Products are also found in a Ready-To-Use bottle for spot treatments and small areas. Be careful with these versions. Some spot treatment products may not be designed for use in a lawn. If the label says “non-selective”, it will kill anything it contacts. You want to use a “selective” killer intended to specifically kill crabgrass in a lawn.
If the crabgrass you are spraying is young, it may die after one treatment. More mature weeds may require one or two repeat applications. Follow the interval schedule on the label for the repeat time.
  • Don’t mow the lawn prior to applying the chemical, since you want more leaf area of the weed to soak up the spray.
  • Don’t water after spraying for 24 hours, and if rain is forecast, it may be better to wait and apply the treatment after the storm.
  • Don't ruin your spray equipment. Thoroughly rinse the container immediately after use. Avoid leaving residue that could clog the unit or affect plants later.
  • Don’t mix more product than you will use in one application. Potency can diminish if the mix sits for days before it is used.
It is not uncommon for a lawn to show discoloring after being sprayed with chemicals for killing crabgrass. This should not be a cause for concern, if you used the appropriate dosage.
If you see yellowing of your lawn, just be patient, and the lawn should grow out to its normal color within one or two mowings.
With the Tenacity product, only the affected weeds stop producing chlorophyll and start to turn white as they die. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week, August 7-13

Celebrate 2016 National Farmers Market Week, August 7-13.
Stop at the Durham markets this Saturday to pick up local produce, baked goods and organic delectables to enjoy all week! See a listing of farmers markets in North Carolina in Triangle Gardener magazine:

Monday, August 1, 2016

August/September Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

A History of Gardening will be taught by Bryce Lane for seven weeks beginning Sept. 12 at the JC Raulston Arboretum.
Pictured: Early Italian Renaissance garden design for the Villa Petraia.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St., Durham, NC. 
Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Thursday, Sept. 8, 4-5:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 9,  1-3 p.m.
Berries and Seeds for the Birds
Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2:30-4 p.m.
Stefan Bloodworth, curator of the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, Duke Gardens
Saturday, Sept. 24, 8-12 Noon
Cooking from the Garden: Autumn Savory Salsas and Spreads
Monday, Sept. 26, 6-8 p.m.
Boosting the Bloom: Perennial Gardens
Tuesdays, Sept. 27 & Oct. 4
Hilary Nichols, Garden Manager, SEEDS, Inc.

Durham Garden Forum:  All the Worlds' a Mushroom: The Largests Organism on Earth
Tuesday, September 20, 6:30-8 p.m.   
Cheralyn Schmidt, area agent, agriculture – horticulture, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Durham County Center
JC Raulston Arboretum
Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC.

Plantsmen's Tour: "40th Anniversary Tour—Scramblers and Ramblers"
Tim Alderton, Research Technician, and Chrisotpher Todd Glenn, Programs and Education Coordinator
Tuesday, Aug. 2, 9–10:30 a.m. and 6-7:30 p.m.

Juried Print Competition
Sponsored by the JC Raulston Arboretum and the Triangle Carolinas Nature Photography Association
Friday, Aug. 19, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. – Entries Accepted
Saturday, Aug. 20, 7–8:30 p.m. – Opening Reception

Gardening Adventures with Extension Master Gardener Volunteers:  "Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardening"
Rich Woynicz, Wake County Extension Master Gardener
Monday, August 22, 10–Noon

Plantsmen's Tour:  "40th Anniversary Tour—JCRA Introductions"
Mark Weathington, Director
Tuesday, September 6, 9-10:30 a.m. and 6–7:30 p.m.   

Friends of the Arboretum Lecture:  "The Foodscape Revolution"
Brienne Gluvna Arthur
Thursday, Sept. 8, 7:30-9 p.m.

History of Gardening
Bryce Lane, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Emeritus and Lecturer Emeritus, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University
Mondays, Sept. 12, 19, 26, Oct. 3, 17, 24, and Nov. 7, 6:30–8:30 p.m.

Creating a Sustainable Urban Wildlife Habitat for the Birds, Bees, and Butterflies
Helen Yoest, Director, Bee Better
Wednesday, Sept. 14, 21, 28 and Oct. 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

North American Rock Garden Society (Piedmont Chapter) Lecture:  "Cactus: More Native Than You Think"
Michael Papay, Piedmont Chapter Member
Saturday, Sept. 17, 10–11:30 a.m.

Gardening Adventures with Extension Master Gardener Volunteers:  "Pruning Woodies and Small Trees"
Brian Purvis, Wake County Extension Master Gardener
Monday, Sept. 26, 10–Noon

North Carolina Botanical Gardens 
100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.

Flying Jewels in the Garden: The Science of Hummingbird Banding
with Susan Campbell, Naturalist
Sunday, Aug. 14, 1-5 p.m.

"How You Can Help Birds Today in the Face of Climate Change"
will be presented by the North Carolina Audubon on Sept. 1 at the NCBG.

Pictured: the Piping Plover.
LUNCHBOX Talk: Chimney Swifts and People: Past, Present, and Future
with John Connors, Wildlife Biologist
Thursday, Aug. 25,  Noon-1 p.m.

LUNCHBOX Talk: How You Can Help Birds Today in the Face of Climate Change
Kim Brand, Audubon North Carolina, Bird-Friendly Communities Coordinator
Thursday, Sept. 1, Noon to 1 p.m.

Fall Flora
Ken Moore, NCBG Assistant Director
Wednesdays, Sept. 7, 21, Oct. 5, 26, (Inclement Weather Date: Nov. 2) from 1:30-4:30 p.m.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners

Lawn Care in the Piedmont: Success, Failures and Muddling Through
Sunday, Aug. 14, 3-4 p.m.
Presented by Charles Murphy
Durham County Public Library - South Regional Branch 4505 S Alston Ave.  Registration is required

Cool Season Vegetables
Sunday, Aug. 21, 3-4 p.m.
Presented by Faye McNaull and Lynne Nelson, assisted by Winslow Carter
Durham County Public Library - South Regional Branch 4505 S Alston Ave.  Registration is required.

Getting Started: Vegetable Gardening
Thursday, Sept. 22, 6:30-8 p.m.   
Presented by Charles Murphy
Sarah P. Duke Gardens