8-4-17 Garden News Roundup

Heard Weekly on the Still Growing Gardening Podcast

Guest Update


First up in the Guest Update segment, past guest Laurie Neverman (SG541) over at Common Sense Homesteading (http://commonsensehome.com) shared a post called Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly with Currants and she wrote you won't believe the flavor. Here’s what she wrote:

"Queen Anne's lace jelly is delicate and floral with a hint of peach flavor. The bright acidity of the currants is a perfect compliment."

Then Laurie shared the images of this jelly, which were absolutely beautiful. She said,

"The tricky part is getting the berries suspended in the jelly instead of floating at the top, which is accomplished by cooling the jelly until it just starts to set. If you're in a hurry and don't care too much about appearance, you can add the currants right away and stir them in at serving time. If you don't have currants, I suspect red raspberries would also work well, or you can make the jelly without added berries."

This post is gorgeous. She also shares an image of her Queen Anne's Lace flower harvest (it’s absolutely beautiful), in addition to how she makes this gorgeous jelly. What an inspiring post.


In Sustainability this week, Amy Stross over at Tenth Acre Farm (https://www.tenthacrefarm.com) shared 7 Ways to Fertilize the Garden with Comfrey. Of course comfrey is a powerhouse for pollinators in the garden and it is a fantastic fertilizer. These suggestions were perfect for the sustainability segment this week. In fact, one of the ideas is simply to use comfrey to activate your compost. Just by taking cuttings and adding it to your compost - you're adding an excellent bio activator to the mix.

Continuing Ed

In Continuing Ed this week, there were a number of posts.

First up, is a nice reminder from the blog Chiot’s Run which was: Don't forget to plant in the Nooks and Crannies in the Garden. Plus, by planting little herbs in those spaces (like thyme), you can benefit pollinators. In fact, in this post, they wrote:

"I love being able to use these tiny nooks to grow plants especially the ones that the pollinators love."

In this post, they shared this small little space between their doorway and the step of their front porch. It was right in this little crevice that they planted thyme and it looked adorable.


Contemporist (http://www.contemporist.com/) shared a great post this week called This Small Backyard In San Francisco Was Designed For Entertaining. If you have a small space and love to entertain, you should really check out the backyard that they featured. It was gorgeous.

And here's what they wrote:

"The backyard has been split by height and by materials to allow for different areas to be defined. Gravel has been used for the firepit level, while wood has been used for the upper level. A path made from pavers connects the different spaces."

If you're putting together some type of outdoor seating area you really need to see this posted was quite beautiful. Lots of great ideas here.


Listener and blogger Tonya Peele over at Plant + Shoot: a photoblog for urban gardeners (http://plantandshoot.com) shared a post she had written called What causes tomatoes to crack?

And here's what she wrote:

"One day my tomatoes seem perfect. When I look again a few days later, I see that their skins are cracking. Some tomatoes appear to be more prone to cracking than others, particularly my large heirloom varieties. I don’t always have this problem when growing tomatoes. Am I doing something wrong?

Tomato cracking is very common in the South and is mainly caused by sudden fluctuations in soil moisture. This can be due to periods of excess rain/watering followed by periods of drought/infrequent watering and humidity. Cracks result when the fruit expands quicker than the skin can grow. Basically, the tomato bursts at the seams."

Tonya shares lots of great information on cracked tomatoes and then a few simple ways to help prevent tomato cracking. So check out her post.


And then finally in Continuing Ed, Kathy Purdy over at Cold Climate Gardening (http://www.coldclimategardening.com/) wrote a great piece earlier this month called What Placeholder Plants Can Do For You. Kathy said this:

"When I finally grasped the concept of placeholder plants, it changed my life. Well, what I mean is, it reduced my garden maintenance load and I enjoyed my garden more, with less work. Not precisely life-changing, but definitely life-improving.

What the heck are placeholder plants?

A placeholder plant is a garden-worthy plant that you happen to have a lot of, which you plant in your garden until you find something you like better to grow in its place. Furthermore, it’s a plant that is easily removed once its time in the garden is over."

So placeholder plants are not a weed. Remember, you have to have a lot of it and it has to be easily removed.

This is a great article about placeholder plants and Kathy includes a couple of examples of great placeholder plants. I love what Kathy says at the end - because she has this little section called “What's the catch?”, and, without further ado, here's the catch:

"The catch is, you have to remember that they’re just placeholders. After a while, your eye gets used to them and skips over them when you’re looking for a spot for the plant in your hand. And then, you have to have the willpower to pull them out. I love Johnny-jump-ups. They’re so sweet. I had to remind myself that they were leggy and on their last blooms. Pretty soon they would be nothing but seedheads and wan stems.

Pulling perfectly good plants out of the ground and throwing them on the compost pile is not for the faint of heart or novice gardeners."

So, this can be difficult for new or sentimental gardeners - but it can be a wonderful strategy in the garden. So check out this post if you want to learn more

How to / DIY

In How to / DIY segment, I shared this adorable garden tic tac toe game. It's using a stump for a playing board and then stones that have been painted to be either ladybugs or bumblebee's. It's a sweet addition to the garden.


Then finally in the How to / DIY segment this week, Stephanie Rose over at Garden Therapy (https://gardentherapy.ca/) wrote a post called Pallet Planter Ideas that Stylishly Bring Upcycling to Your Garden. This post had wonderful ideas for a pallet planter and this first one was stunning. In fact, she shared a lot of different ideas that she'd collected on social media showing - ideas including everything from vegetables to succulents in your pallet planter. Lots of great ideas here.

Plant Spotlight

In the Plant Spotlight this week, there is a post from Press Telegram called Gardening: ‘Z’ is for zinnia, a durable annual that thrives in the summer and it's praising the many virtues of zinnias and it has this witty line, “Zinnias are without sin-nias”. And then listener Tonya Peele of the blog Plant + Shoot: a photoblog for urban gardeners (http://plantandshoot.com) wrote:

I love zinnias. A few of mine are showing signs of powdery mildew. So I need to be more careful to only water the roots.

Don't forget that you can create a spray using milk and water - or yogurt and water - and use that to help with powdery mildew.

In the News

In the News this week, Tracy Blevins of Plantsmap (https://www.plantsmap.com/) shared a post that she found and she wrote, “The next time you buy an orchid - leave with the one you paid for or police may come knocking.”

This was a post shared by the India Times and the headline was 'Incredibly Rare Orchid' Worth Millions Almost Became This Woman's House Plant. And here's how:

Apparently, a Chinese woman accidentally exchanged her thrift deal with a whopping $3 million dollar plant. She was at a nursery in China and she had bought an orchid. But when she was on her way out of the store her eyes landed on an orchid that looked so similar - just a little perkier. So, she put what she had bought in the vase and then walked away with the other one.

The only problem was that what she picked was a rare exotic orchid. It was a prized possession for the nursery. They had just put that orchid there on display.

Fortunately the police were able to track the woman down - she had absolutely no knowledge of what she had done. When they questioned her, she said “I just picked it because I thought it was a little perkier. I thought it was the same plant.”

Dream Guest

In the Dream Guest segment this week is Dutch artist Maaike Koster. And when I shared this post with listeners I wrote I'll reach out to her as soon as I'm finished drooling over her work.

There was a great post written about her on Gardenista (https://www.gardenista.com/) recently called Portraits of Houseplants from Dutch Painter Maaike Koster. Maaike has a talent for combining her own house plants and prints. She has an amazing online shop and it's called My Deer Art Shop (https://mydeerartshop.nl/) and it is so successful that she's now got a brick and mortar store in Harlem Netherlands.

This post about Maaike showed a few glimpses of her store and her nearby home - which are both filled with compelling pairings of potted and painted greenery. I loved this post.


Finally in the Dream Guest segment, was landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith and his gorgeous landscape featured in a post called The garden of landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith on Desire to Inspire (http://www.desiretoinspire.net/). It is something else! I say he's been touched by the landscaping gods and I'd love to know some of the lessons that Tom has learned after creating beautiful landscapes - like the one in his own backyard.


In Science this week, there was a fascinating article by Ken Thompson and I thoroughly enjoyed this post. The article was called how buttercups can teach you the age of a meadow and this article appeared in The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/) and here was my favorite excerpt:


So, now we have the right plant, plus the right mutation, finding the age of a meadow could hardly be simpler. Look at 100 randomly chosen creeping buttercup flowers and count how many have more than the five regulation petals. Every flower with extra petals equals roughly seven years. So if you looked at 100 flowers and 14 of them had extra petals, your meadow is about 100 years oldIsn't that fascinating?


Also Science this week, there was a new plant discovery in Japan. This was shared in the Science Daily (https://www.sciencedaily.com/) and the title is New non-photosynthesizing plant species discovered on Ishigaki island, Japan and the flowers on this tiny little specimen are these adorable little purple blooms. It's incredible to think that it's a non-photosynthesizing plant. Pretty cool find.


In Shopping this week, I'd like to encourage you to go get the book Potted: Make your own Stylish Garden Containers. It offers 23 Step-By-Step container garden projects and there are lots of a-ha’s and great takeaways in this book. If you get the book, you'll be all set for the upcoming episode - because the gals who wrote it are coming on the show. I'm so excited about that.


Also in Shopping, there is a freebie for you over at Botanical Paperworks (https://www.botanicalpaperworks.com/). They have updated their collection of designer freebie calendars that you can print at home or take to a local print shop and they're gorgeous. They have Four Stylish 2018 Calendar designs for you to choose from and an extra special new design coming very soon - so be sure to check back.

Take a look.

Pick your favorite design.

Download the PTF and print it.

It's a great little find and the link is in the Facebook group: The Still Growing Podcast Group. So check it out.


In Inspiration this week, there were a number of posts.


The first was a little peek behind the scenes at Chelsea written in a post by Michael Perry called Story of the most photographed creations of Chelsea Flower Show and it featured these wonderful topiaries that are made with Easigrass. When I shared this in the Facebook Group, Patricia Chandler Newport shared a topiary that she made and it looks like a poodle. I wrote How long does it take to create this poodle topiary. It looks like it's about eight feet tall! She's there standing on ladders and trimming this thing - and she said it takes a couple of hours when she gets to work maintaining this topiary with her crew. What a cool job.


And then the Chicago Botanic Garden’s website - My Chicago Botanic (http://my.chicagobotanic.org/) - shared a great post called Don’t trust your eyes—that leaf is actually a butterfly. It’s all about the beautiful butterflies that are enjoying the Chicago Botanic Garden and the butterfly that they start out featuring is the orange dead leaf butterfly. They wrote this:

"If we didn’t point out this character to guests, no one would ever suspect that they were looking at a butterfly.

I like to describe the orange dead leaf butterfly as being able to mimic a dead leaf better than an actual dead leaf can. When it closes its wings, the butterfly has a perfectly ovate silhouette, complete with both a pointed leaf apex at the front tip and a petiole, or the stalk that attaches leaf to stem, on the hindside. The wing is a drab brown, with leaf vein arrangement very similar to that of a flowering dogwood. "

The photos show that the wing is indeed a drab brown – and I mean truly drab - with leaf veining. This makes it go completely incognito – ignored by all but the sharpest predators. Super cool.


And then gardener Carrie Preston recently shared her photo album of Piet Oudolf’s garden. When I saw her album, I wrote her and asked for permission to share it with the Facebook group. I thought her photos and commentary were excellent. So, I hope you've had a chance to spend some time this past week looking through the wonderful photos. There's so much to take in!

Specifically, Carrie had the rare opportunity to visit Piet’s personal garden and they were the only visitors. And if that wasn't enough, Piet spent several hours walking around in the garden with them, talking about plants, discussing plant design, and adding layers of meaning to what they were seeing. Carie shared over 30 photos and she wrote:

"I've tried to be a bit selective on the photographs - but too many of them are either too pretty not to share or show something I'd like to archive."

Every gardener should check out this album in the Facebook Group. I thought it was absolutely tremendous. If you join the group, there will be a search bar where you can search for posts. So just go to the search bar and type in Piet and Carrie's album will pop up and you can peruse it. This post is well worth searching for.



There were no Recipes this week.

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“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson.

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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